PLANO, TX: PepsiCo's Frito-Lay division has launched a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of the company's food processing methods and future product goals.
Throughout the week, Frito-Lay will be holding cooking demonstrations from a recreated “flavor kitchen,” an actual site based in its Plano, Texas headquarters where Frito Lay flavors are developed and produced. The demonstrations, set on the marquee atop the Hard Rock Café, will be aired on the adjacent Thomson Reuters billboard in New York's Times Square, and streamed for viewers across the nation on its Facebook page, according to Chris Kuechenmeister, senior director of PR at Frito-Lay.
“People are interested in where their food comes from,” Kuechenmeister said of the decision to bring the manufacturing process to the public eye. “Why don't we bring that process to consumers and show that magic to them? Let's bring that to the heart of America where flavors converge.”
The demonstrations are presented by Frito-Lay chefs and supported by celebrity co-hosts, such as Top Chef's Padma Lakshmi, Greek chef Michael Psilakis, and former The Next Food Network Star contestant Colombe Jacobsen.
“We're also sharing with [consumers] some potential future flavors,” added Kuechenmeister. “We've essentially turned Times Square into a virtual test kitchen.”
Kuechenmeister said Ketchum and The Marketing Arm are providing planning and execution support for the week in New York.
Beyond that, Frito-Lay is hoping to leverage the week-long event to communicate its long-term goal of getting 50% of its entire product portfolio to be made with all-natural ingredients, meaning no artificial flavors, preservatives, or MSG.
The company is pitching traditional business media, consumer outlets, and broadcast media. Lakshmi has appeared on Fox News Channel's Fox & Friends, and Fox News also hosted Frito-Lay's CMO Ann Mukherjee.
Additionally, Frito-Lay has launched an online cooking series that will incorporate the Times Square demonstrations on its Facebook page. The series will show easy-to-make recipes, some of which have turned into Frito Lay products. The company is also working in partnership with Farmville, where consumers can harvest Frito Lay in-game crops to create their own Frito-Lay products and earn Farmville points.
Consumers can also unlock recipes and download editorial content about Frito-Lay products through their smartphones. Kuechenmeister said consumer awareness is at the heart of the company's new initiatives to get them more involved.
"A lot of people don't assume that when they think of Lays Potato Chips, or Sun Chips, or Tostitos, that the reality is it starts with ingredients that you and I buy at a supermarket and it starts in a real kitchen by real chefs," he said. "Bringing that to life is important."
Kuechenmesiter declined to disclose the budget for the campaign.