User generated marketing: Cheetos Museum

Digital marketing industry case study library

No two Cheetos snacks are alike, Pepsico decided to turn its cheesy snack into a piece of art. This case study looks at how the FMCG giant user user generated content and social media in a fun and engaging way to boost brand engagement.

Cheetos Museum from Kristin Graham on Vimeo.

Case study summary

• Pepsico creates user generated Cheetos Museum site and competition

• Contest received more than 100,000 user submissions.

• Videos received more than 23 million views across social and traditional outlets

The challenge

"We noticed that on Instagram and other social platforms, people were posting images of Cheetos that looked like other things; there was even a full Instagram page dedicated to it at the time," explained Joan Cetera, senior director of marketing communications at Cheetos parent Frito-Lay North America. "The marketing team really knew that this was a consumer behavior that was already happening so that thought was: How do we take this and make it something for everybody?"

The main goal was fuelling consumer engagement by encouraging people to look into a bag of Cheetos and see what shapes they could find. This is where the idea for the Cheetos Museum was born.

The solution

Cheetos looked to create a digital platform that would allow consumers to view, vote on, and submit their own unique Cheetos shapes. The PR team also wanted to develop a few on-air broadcast opportunities which would help bolster the campaign's launch, generate widespread media coverage, and get the campaign trending on social outlets.

From May 31 through August 15 2017, fans could submit a photo and the story of their one-of-a-kind Cheetos shape (whether it be the Eiffel Tower or Venus de Milo) at

All submissions were judged weekly based on visual interest, buzzworthy and creativity. Ten weekly winners were awarded a $10,000 prize and have their masterpieces immortalized in the online Cheetos Museum and in a real-life exhibit later this summer.

The Cheetos brand then turned the voting over to America to determine the grand prize winning shape from the four weekly winners with the highest scores. The fan whose submission got the most votes was unveiled as the pièce de résistance of the Cheetos Museum exhibit and be awarded an additional $50,000 as the grand prize winner.

Enthusiasts could also look for one of 10 surprise Cheetos game pieces, representing specific Cheetos Museum shapes, hidden inside specially marked bags of Cheetos. The 10 fans that uncovered these pieces of Cheetos art won an ultimate family vacation (worth $10,000) to one of the cities represented by the game pieces.

On social platforms, specifically Facebook and Twitter, the campaign team sought to use short-form content to direct people back to the Cheetos Museum microsite.

Ketchum was in charge of the earned media strategy and ran media outreach efforts. Goodby Silverstein & Partners produced digital creative content that would be pushed across digital, social, and traditional channels throughout the campaign. The Marketing Arm helped the brand develop the microsite,, and the user-submission contest.

On May 30, the brand's social media accounts posted teasers to announce the opening of the Cheetos Museum.

The microsite went live the next day, enabling fans to submit their own Cheetos shapes for a chance at winning cash or other prizes. On that night’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! show, the host’s sidekick Guillermo Rodriguez was featured in a short segment about the Cheetos Museum.
Several days later, Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, from NBC's Today show also helped showcase the campaign.

"We partnered the launch with actual Cheetos art we created for national morning shows," said Cetera. "We had a picture of [Gifford] and [Kotb] drinking glasses of wine and they loved it so much they ended up unveiling and talking about it on-air."

The user-submission contest ran through August 31. The grand prize winner from Texas won $50,000 with her submission: Hot Cheetos Cat.

Thanks to the success of the digital aspect of the campaign, the team decided to create a physical museum to house 40 of the most distinctive submissions from the contest. Cheetos held a pop-up exhibit, from September 21-22, in the Vanderbilt Hall of Grand Central Terminal in New York City.

The results

The Cheetos Museum contest received more than 100,000 user submissions. Videos content produced as part of the campaign received more than 23 million views across social and traditional outlets.

In June 2016, the Cheetos website received 1.47 million views, which was 525% above the brand's monthly average. The Cheetos Museum also was trending on Facebook from June 21-23, 2016.

The campaign resulted in 4,831 media placements. Notable outlets which featured the campaign include: HuffPost, Refinary29, Food Beast, The Daily Meal, WGN-TV, and CNN's Morning Express with Robin Meade.

Cheetos recorded its strongest sales week ever, when the campaign was running last summer.
To see all of Chester's cheesy art collection and to vote for your favorite pieces visit

Copyright ©2000-2019 Digital Strategy Consulting Limited | All rights reserved | This material is for your personal use only | Using this site constitutes acceptance of our user agreement and privacy policy