Cheetos at SXSW
OMD EMEA
29 March 2022

Originally published on AdAge.

If SXSW is known for anything, it’s the installations from the brands brave enough to engage with this all-too-cool crowd. But it turns out this crowd is not too cool for Cheetos, Batmobiles or neon sci-fi art projects. Here is a look at some of the most popular branded exhibits at this year’s SXSW in Austin, which ends March 20.

The Cheetos House at SXSW was all about not touching anything with cheese-covered fingers.

Cheetos Lair

When people think of tech, they don’t usually think of Cheetos, but this is
SXSW, so everything is tech-related, even cheesy snacks. One of the more
popular exhibits at this year’s Austin festival was the “hands-free” Cheetos
House, which saw throngs of people lining up to get in on Day One on
Saturday, and the crowds kept coming throughout the weekend.

“Our return to SXSW is super exciting for us as a brand,” said Melody
Macaluso, marketing director at Cheetos, which is a part of PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division. Cheetos hadn’t been to SXSW in about five years, Macaluso said.

Lines were long to get into Cheetos House.

There were hundreds of people waiting for the doors to open on Cheetos
House on its first day. It turned out to be an artful exhibit of a mock pad for Chester Cheeto, where all the furniture was white, which makes it more
difficult to eat Cheetos and touch anything. So, Cheetos highlighted hands-free tech powered by Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. The tech was, at points, a little impractical. There was a whole counter in the kitchen dedicated to a hands-free blender that only worked with Cheetos, turning them into mozzarella sticks, and then there was an automated step for baking them.

The crowd was a mix of SXSW-goers and serious Cheetos fans. Busses full
of “influencers” were hauled in to take the tour. “We just got the word out via social media,” Macaluso said. “We did a few out-of-home placements, and we have a moving truck [promoting the space.]” Also read: Cheetos’ ‘cheetle’ featured in an Art Basel exhibit.

The hands-free house fits with Cheetos broader marketing push. Numerous ads revolve around a similar theme of what to do when your digits are crusted with the orange dust the brand affectionately calls “cheetle.”

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