Monday, September 10, 2012

The American Heart Association Hires Cheetos Mascot To Hand Out Chips at Heart Walk

Or to be more accurate, the American Heart Association (AHA) sold Frito-Lay the right to hand out chips and have Cheetos mascot Chester the Cheetah walk with the crowds at this past weekend's AHA Dallas Heart Walk.

The walk is meant to raise money to fund heart disease research and it's a popular one. This year it raised over $4 million, and from the photos it would seem thousands came out.

Photo by Twitter's @andy_kahn (Andy Kahn, MD, FACEP) 

And leading those thousands in dance (have a peek right in the middle)?

Photo by Twitter's @RyanEverhart

Yup, this guy, clearly capitalizing on Frito-Lay's walk sponsorship,

Photo by Twitter's @dallassinglemom

Cheetos' mascot Chester who I would imagine was part of the team who then after began handing out bags of chips to the participants.

Photo by Twitter's @RyanEverhart
So what's in it for Frito-Lay?
  • Tying their brand to the positive emotions of the walk - joy, hope, charity, happiness, spirit, camaraderie, health, and generosity.
  • Direct marketing and sampling of their chip products and the hopeful conversion of participants, ideally young participants, into brand loyal consumers.
  • A great "corporate social responsibility"opportunity with which to defend against industry unfriendly legislation and actions as well as use as a foot in the door for other such sponsorships.
  • The further normalization of junk food as part of everyday life, this time with the explicit blessing and tacit support of the American Heart Association.
Undoubtedly Frito-Lay expects the return on their investment to exceed the cost of their sponsorship - be it in direct sales or in indirect benefits, but either way, Frito-Lay isn't in the social service business.

As to what's in it for the American Heart Association? Cold. Hard. Dollars.

My eight year old was watching me as I was encouraging participants to send me pictures of this unholy union. She asked me what I was doing and I did my best to explain it to her. This was her response:

I wonder what the AHA would tell her?