Frito-Lay Enlists Fiesta Bowl Fans on Facebook

Frito-Lay is using Facebook to recruit and chronicle “Race to the Bowl” participants in an online and offline campaign tied to the 2009 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. The snack brand set up two rival groups of fans — one each for the Ohio State University Buckeyes and University of Texas Longhorns — on Facebook for a competition that runs from December 31 to January 5.

Frito-Lay created an “Amazing Race”-style competition, called “Race to the Bowl,” where two teams made up of six fans each will compete in events in several venues, including at Ohio State, University of Texas, and New York City leading up to game day. In one such event, each team of six fans will go to their respective college campus and enlist other fans to have their faces painted in college colors.

“We’ve been a sponsor of the Fiesta Bowl since 1996,” Frito-Lay spokesman Chris Keuchenmeister told ClickZ. “People bring passion together for their team. We feel that’s a role Tostitos brings together for their team.”

“Race to the Finish” raises awareness for Tostitos beyond the Fiesta Bowl sponsorship by hosting these live events. Keuchenmeister said it works for a number of reasons: Not all fans get to go to the bowl, the competition allows the 12 fans o attend the bowl in addition to participating in “an experience they could not have had otherwise.” The winning team will earn a $100,000 scholarship for its university and it’s an “appealing story, something that we hope our fans will appreciate,” Keuchenmeister said.

Frito-Lay had a limited timeframe for the competition. The brand worked with Facebook to seed targeted ads beginning November 26, before the Fiesta Bowl’s finalists were determined. In the campaign, Frito-Lay tried to target potential schools that might be in the Fiesta Bowl. Frito-Lay made two targeted ad buys on Facebook. Both standard ads and engagement ads were targeted the top 10 Bowl Championship Series schools. Once Ohio State and University of Texas qualified for the Fiesta Bowl, ads were then targeted to students of just those two schools.

“This was a focused program, not meant to be targeted to the entire Facebook audience,” said Tom Arrix, vice president of sales, East, at Facebook.

Engagement ads encouraged Facebook users to become a fan of their respective groups; Texas or Ohio.

On Facebook, Frito-Lay also invited Texas and Ohio State football fans to compete for the opportunity to participate in the “Race to the Bowl” campaign. Some 1,000 entries were submitted though a “Race to the Bowl” page on Facebook; two teams made up of six fans each were selected to represent each university in the online and offline competition.

Each school now has a group on the social networking site where fans can follow progress of each “Race to the Bowl” team. On December 31 at press time Team Texas had 239 members and Team Buckeye (Ohio) had 127 members. A search on Facebook groups for “Tostitos” turned up an alternate group supporting Ohio State for the Fiesta Bowl with 305 members. The group’s name: “GO BUCKS!! Tostitos Fiesta Bowl 2009 (expletive) Texas!”

Referring to the alternate group, Keuchenmeister said, “That kind of language is not something we would use.” However he countered, “It shows the passion people have. We see college football as a way to bring people together — and that’s why it makes sense for Tostitos to be a part of college football. It reinforces a part of what somebody knows.”

While results for the alternate group gathered more members than the Frito-Lay sponsored groups, the brand was pleased with the number of entries it got during the recruitment period, and engagement as the contest approached.

The goals that we set were really trying to get a great collection of possible entries. It being football season that would be hundreds [of entries], when that broke over 1,000 that was surprising,” said Keuchenmeister. The groups have maintained conversation with fans and Frito-Lay expects to continue to hold engagement as the Facebook groups chronicle each of the teams’ progress.

The online campaign for “Race for the Bowl” appears exclusively on Facebook. “They used their promotion and hub on Facebook. Their connection and experience was on Facebook, and are not driving off to a Tostitos URL. The way they used the site I thought was terrific,” said Arrix.

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