Cheetos’ Big Balls

Consumed columnist, Rob Walker is wigged about the introduction of over-sized Cheetos.

The bag describes its contents as “Dangerously cheesy taste in a dangerously cheesy ball!” The phrase “dangerously cheesy” has a trademark next to it. To me, the contents do look dangerous. But then even my inner 12-year-old finds Cheetos a little frightening, with the product’s unnaturally glowing orange color, curious “dust” and hard-to-explain shape suggesting the byproduct of an industrial accident rather than a food stuff.

Which is funny. But not as funny as the quotes Walker elicits from Justin Lambeth, a vice president of marketing at Frito-Lay.

“We’re in a tough economic time, and during tough economic times, people need to lighten up and unstress,” Lambeth asserts. “And you know, that’s what Cheetos does. It’s a natural extension of the brand’s personality. So, it’s a perfect time to introduce the product.”

I’ve been exposed to this kind of thinking at big packaged good brands before. It’s funny, but also sad. Walker points out that Cheetos are already available in dozens of variations, thanks to an unending supply of new line extensions.
Making this bigger variety isn’t going to make people feel better about the economy, that’s not a snack food’s role in society. It’s a snack. Its role is to taste good and hold people over until meal time.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.