Visitors to blogs including Boing Boing, Indy Mogul and Mashable over the next six weeks may notice a peculiar amount of Cheetos-related content, and they will have Federated Media to thank.
These blogs and six others, all of which belong to the FM ad network, are taking part in a sponsorship program called Cheetos Boredom Busters. Starting last Wednesday, these sites are posting weekly distractions or time wasters that remind their audience to take a short break from work and enjoy themselves. The sites are given full editorial control over what they post -- whether it be a link to a Web-based game or a piece of original Cheetos-centric content -- but all posts will include the Cheetos Boredom Buster logo and be accompanied by a Cheetos ad roadblock.
Cheetos and its creative agency, Goodby Silverstein & Partners, which is part of the Omnicom group, approached FM in July "because they wanted to do something very specific around the Cheetos personality and have the theme of adults having more fun at work, something that's playful," Jackie Mogol, regional sales manager of FM, said. So FM came up with the idea of asking some of its publishers to create content around the Cheetos brand and the need to take a mid-day break from work.
"Cheetos and Goodby understood that the authors know their audience better than anyone," which is why they signed off on letting them having full creative control, Mogol said. "We gave them basic outlinesÃÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½no swear words, no sex or violence, and no drugs. Otherwise they had full reign on creating the content that fit their audience."
The results are predictably varied. For example, Boing Boing has created a seven-part series about a foreign object that looks suspiciously like a Cheeto falling from the sky and causing chaos in a fictional Communist country, whereas Indy Mogul's first post made no mention of Cheetos at all, and simply directed users to a link where they could create their own animated films.
Regardless of whether the blogs integrate the Cheetos brand into their posts, all are asked to disclose the nature of the integration and use the Cheetos Bordeom Buster logo in the posts. Boing Boing went so far as to post a letter to its readers explaining why its chose to create Cheetos-branded content, which has sparked a lively debate in the post's comments sections about whether the integration crossed the line of editorial independence.
Matthew DiPietro, an FM spokesman, said none of the seven blog authors expressed concerns that the Cheetos effort might compromise their editorial integrity.
"We've done many, many deals in which advertisers offer themselves up as a means to create content," he said. "We generally don't get any pushback from our content partners."
The new Boredom Busters will go up on Wednesdays between noon and 6 PM in each time zone for the next six weeks, a time that Mogol referred to as "peak hours."
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Douglas Quenqua is a journalist based in Brooklyn, NY who writes about culture and technology. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, The New York Observer, and Fortune.
March 19, 2014