Last night, I nearly gagged watching the ill-advised shenanigans Tostitos pulled during the Fiesta Bowl halftime show.
To summarize, Tostitos — the title sponsor of the game — partnered with USO to surprise four families by reuniting them with a loved one returned from overseas. The families had been brought down to the field and honored for their sacrifice. All of the sudden, a curtain dropped to reveal four servicemen, and 30 millions Americans looked on as emotion and shock flooded the field.
Was it touching? Absolutely. But the moment wasn’t ours. We didn’t deserve to be a part of it. It was a highly personal moment — branded, commercialized, and corporatized for your viewing pleasure. And judging by the mostly positive reviews on Twitter, it went over quite well.
The halftime show was a sort-of kickoff for the Tostitos Reunite America campaign. According to a Frito-Lay press release, Reunite America is “a program that will foster consumer-requested reunions of all kinds nationwide during 2011.” The release goes on to say,
Current pop culture trends show that consumers are looking for ways to reconnect, not just online, but in real life. From television shows that spotlight high-profile reunions to the recent trend in tracing ancestry roots, people are seeking out long-lost connections. With that in mind, the Tostitos brand intends to make desired reunions a reality for many people who otherwise might be limited to connecting with friends and family online, or not at all.
Please. Stick to chips.
It’s one thing to reconnect with an old friend, co-worker or classmate. However, reuniting with a family member who’s served overseas should be considered something sacred, not a marketing opportunity.
I’m not the only who reviled the halftime show:
Of course, there were plenty of positive reviews, too. If you can evoke powerful emotions in a consumer, nearly any campaign will be well-received. But take a step back and think about if military families reuniting was really Tostitos’ moment to own, whether it should’ve been used to sell some chips or drive people to a Facebook page.
(For the record, the Tostitos Facebook page received about 1,000 Likes in the half-hour following halftime — roughly a 0.003 percent conversion rate with a viewing audience of 30 million. Not good.)
Did you see last night’s halftime show? What did you think? Did Tostitos take advantage of a great opportunity or did they undermine their own campaign before it got off the blocks?