Cannes Lions

Cheetle in Cheadle

CITIZEN RELATIONS, Toronto / CHEETOS / 2023

Awards:

1 Silver Cannes Lions
1 Bronze Cannes Lions
3 Shortlisted Cannes Lions
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Overview

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Credits

Overview

Background

After years of targeting families (often with childlike programming and an emphasis on brand mascot Chester Cheetah), Canadians figured Cheetos was just for kids. Not to mention, to appeal to parents, the brand had downplayed Cheetos' most distinctive and divisive quality: Cheetle—the orange, messy, indulgent dust. But by 2022, Canadian sales were plateauing: the consumer had evolved—only 22% of households that purchase Cheetos have kids, signaling an untapped opportunity for the brand to fuel distinction for the brand, and increase relevance and top-of-mind awareness among adults. The campaign’s objective was to unleash some playful mischief and galvanize public sentiment around Cheetle, so that it became part of the brand lexicon and was celebrated, not washed off.

Idea

Fun fact: Alberta, Canada has a particular penchant for oversized landmarks. It’s home to over 30 of them in fact, including huge foods from giant mushrooms in Vilna to the world’s largest sausage in Mundare. When we discovered a tiny Albertan hamlet of 83 called Cheadle, we found our opportunity: build a monument to memorialize our iconic orange dust.

We erected the 17-foot statue of a hand holding a Cheetos Puff, its Cheetle-covered fingertips proudly on display, with no fanfare, pre-roll, or social ads. We posted on local advertorial, grabbed a bag of Cheetos, and waited for the first eyes to land on the supersized snack.

What started as a few drivebys quickly turned into a pilgrimage of thousands daily, many traveling across Canada for a selfie with the statue.

Strategy

Not many Canadians know that there is an official term for the iconic orange dust on their fingertips: Cheetle. Looking to unleash some playful mischief, Cheetos tasked us with garnering nationwide attention—call it an educational opportunity—to change that. With only 22% of households that purchase Cheetos having kids, this signaled an untapped opportunity for the brand to increase relevance and top-of-mind awareness among all who are young at heart. To do this, the brand shifted its strategy from downplaying the dust to celebrating the messy orange fingertip. And what do we do with the things we love the most? We cherish them. We revere them. We build monuments to them. So we built a Cheetle Hand Statue in Cheadle, Alberta and leveraged social behaviour in our media relations to spread the word for all to see.

Execution

We created a stoic statue of a giant hand holding a Cheetos with Cheetle-covered fingertips and on a random October day, placed it in a field in Cheadle, Alberta…and waited for passersby to stumble upon it.

That didn’t take long. A few accidental drivebys resulted in some social posts, and that quickly grew into some local coverage, then national, then global. It triggered a pilgrimage, with thousands of people a day overwhelming this hamlet… many from hundreds of kilometers away.

Knowing it was only going to be in market for four weeks, the statue was quickly covered by top-tier media around the world. Celebrities came, it was the subject of memes and parodies from other brands, named the top-rated “historical landmark” on Google, and the late-night Jimmies even got in on the fun. This organic swell began as a regional story, then became a global phenomenon. Cheetle was EVERYWHERE.

Outcome

With $0 spent on influencers and only $5k on paid media in total:

2.2 billion impressions from top tier global media coverage, from CNN to Seth Myers and Jimmy’s Fallon and Kimmel, plus outlets in 28 countries as far away as Australia, Cyprus, India, Philippines, Thailand, Russia, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia.

1,103 earned traditional hits and 784 earned social hits - making it the most successful PepsiCo Foods Canada PR campaign in history

+1,750% increase in “Cheetle” mentions (awareness goal surpassed by… a zillion percent)

+17% in positive sentiment shift (for synonyms of Cheetos Dust vs 2021)

47% increase in Regional sales of Cheetos Puffs snacks

23% increase in National sales of Cheetos Puffs snacks

Most importantly… Don Cheadle changed his Wikipedia photo, and told Jimmy Kimmel he’d put the statue on his lawn. For real.

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