Highlights from ANA Brand Activation Conference, Part III

May 14 2018
The 2018 ANA Brand Activation Conference was jam-packed with great content and impressive presenters. In the past couple blog posts, I’ve been covering some highlights. This week, I’m sharing my last two highlights, from Nickelodeon and Frito-Lay.

“Re-Imagining the Brand Experience”

Jennifer Tracy, SVP Partner Marketing & Creative, Nickelodeon

The Nickelodeon Mission and Vision Statements are focused on kids and being more playful and fun.

Paw Patrol

Nickelodeon has tapped into their brand to create a great alliance with Visionworks, which provides eye exams for the whole family. They saw value in using the Paw Patrol property, a Nickelodeon show immensely popular with young children, to improve the exam experience for children. The exams were made less scary for kids by bringing the Paw Patrol brand into the exam itself. They also used influencer marketing, partnering with internet influencer The Texting Yoga Pants to create a video.

The Texting Yoga Pants:



The Kid Inside

In another marketing effort, Nickelodeon has tapped into an entirely different market. Maybe call it “the kid inside,” as people who grew up watching Nick in the 90s are showing nostalgia for the shows they grew up on. Yes, even those in their 30s want to be “slimed.” Nickelodeon has fed their desire, creating “The Splat” as a way for those kids of the 90s to interact with the shows they enjoyed as children. And nowhere might this nostalgia be more apparent than the successful “SpongeBob SquarePants” musical now on Broadway. Both financially and critically successful, it has shown the amazing reach of the Nickelodeon brand as part of the American pop culture fabric.



KEY TAKEAWAYS: Follow your customers wherever they may be, looking for ways to share your brand with them.


“Turning Brand Love into Brand Gold”

Rachel Ferdinando, VP, Core Business, Media & Digital, Frito-Lay North America

Pepsi Frito-Lay have a digital-first strategy. With a younger demographic and discretionary products, engaging customers within the pop culture landscape is the best recipe for success.




Fifty-year-old brand Doritos has become a true success story in the high-stakes game of Super Bowl advertising. Ms. Ferdinando shared their 2018 campaign by first discussing 2017, when Doritos chose to sit the big game out. The social media response was of two kinds: 1) “where was the Doritos ad this year?” and 2) “another great ad from Doritos this year!” showing the connection between Doritos and the Super Bowl. So, they went big in 2018, ramping up the star power to launch two new brands – Doritos Blaze and Mountain Dew Ice. Peter Dinklage, Morgan Freeman, Missy Elliot and Busta Rhymes starred in a rap battle based on the “fire and ice” dichotomy of the two new products. They created a SnapChat filter that allowed fans to pick their “winner” and join the rap battle.

Doritos Blaze & Mountain Dew Ice Rap Battle:



Ms. Ferdinando also shared some great stories of brand activation for the Cheetos brand. Since 1948, Cheetos have been a unique snack staple. Literally unique, as no two Cheetos are the same. Frito-Lay took advantage of this difference, asking customers what their Cheetos look like? They introduced the “Cheetos Museum” and a $100,000 contest to find the Cheetos that look the most like something. The promotion reached its apex with a real Cheetos Museum exhibit at Grand Central Station in NYC. The museum went viral, as people began to bid thousands of dollars for special Cheetos on eBay.




Cheetos also tackled what is traditionally a slow holiday season by introducing the Cheetos Store, selling everything from a full-body Chester Cheetah jumper to Cheetos-themed jewelry costing $20,000. The store sold out, also driving sales not seen in previous holiday seasons.

Cheetos also created a Cheeto-themed pop-up restaurant in Manhattan during Restaurant Week, selling out reservations and receiving an amazing amount of press coverage. People were intrigued by the Cheetos-infused recipes, and Frito-Lay enjoyed incredible brand activation during the week. Food and Wine article on The Spotted Cheetah:

KEY TAKEAWAYS: Be bold in the ways you insert yourself into pop culture. Push the brand to areas you and your customers would not think it could go.


Let’s talk

The theme of bravery certainly came through in the sessions I’ve described. As the team at YA Engage discussed the event and shared our thoughts about what we learned from the conference, we discussed ways we can help our clients and prospects be braver about the ways they find novel ways to engage their customers. We are resolute to help push our clients to be brave and take smart risks to do things differently.

If you’d like to learn more about how YA can help you acquire new customers, retain the ones you have, and build lifelong loyalty, then I’d love to begin a conversation with you. Contact me to learn more.

Dan Ribolzi is the Vice President of Sales, Manufacturing Vertical at YA

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