Super Bowl LII: 5 Questions With Frito-Lay VP Rachel Ferdinando

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Morgan Freeman and Peter Dinklage PepsiCo Super Bowl

Doritos is returning to Super Bowl advertising, and it’s bringing a friend with it: Mtn Dew.

The two PepsiCo brands are the stars—along with some actors and rappers—in a 60-second ad that brings Doritos back to Big Game commercials after it skipped last year, a punctuation mark at the end of a 10-year run of crowdsourced “Crash the Super Bowl” ads.

Doritos is launching a spicy new variety, Blaze, while Mtn Dew debuts its uncolored new variety, Ice. The ad, below, show a red-hot Peter Dinklage (and Busta Rhymes) representing Doritos (hashtag #spitfire), throwing down in a lip-sync battle with an oh-so-cool Morgan Freeman (and Missy Elliott) on the Mtn Dew Ice team (hashtag #icecold).

“Consumer response already has been pretty good,” Frito-Lay vice president Rachel Ferdinando told brandchannel. “We’ve had some fantastic response from consumers, a lot of kudos ahead of Super Bowl Sunday. And even P. Diddy has told us he thinks the ad is dope.”

The campaign will be supported with a Snapchat Lens that will give fans an opportunity to pick a side between Doritos and Mtn Dew and to rap like Dinklage or Freeman.

Rachel Ferdinando - PepsiCoAs head of Media and Digital for Core Brands in the Frito Lay Division of PepsiCo, Ferdinando (right) is responsible for driving market share, revenue and profit growth for a $5.6 billion snack portfolio including three $1bn-plus global brands. That portfolio includes Doritos, Cheetos and Tostitos.

We spoke with Ferdinando about Doritos comeback, life after “Crash the Super Bowl” and more. (Also, don’t miss our Q&A with PepsiCo CMO Greg Lyons and Frito-Lay CMO Jennifer Saenz.)

Last year for the first time in a decade, Doritos didn’t advertise during the Super Bowl as you brought your annual “Crash the Super Bowl” meme to its end. What was the aftermath of that?

What’s been really exciting and surprising is just how missed we were as a result of not being in the Super Bowl. We actually were the seventh-most talked-about brand in 2017 despite not actually advertising that day. Fans really love Doritos and were passionate about the brand and its exciting breakthrogh, bold style of advertising and they missed that.

So what happened next?

In 2016, after a decade, we really went out on a high. So seeing the response from our consumers about that stage, we worked very hard through 2017 to really find the next groundbreaking idea for how Doritos can get back to the Super Bowl 2018.

Why did you do what you did?

We’re bringing out a first of its kind. This is the first time that we at PepsiCo have advertised two of our beloved brands [together] on the biggest stage of the year. We wanted something that presented passion in the bold and breakthrough way of Doritos.

When we saw the concept—which is really about support for Doritos Blaze, a bold new flavor that really brings the heat—we wanted something that brings to light the special and unique relationship of the brands. That’s when #Spitfire was born.

Mountain Dew continues to enjoy a strong run in a CSD category that obviously is very troubled. How did the new dueling flavors of Mtn Dew and Doritos come about?

What’s very interesting about these two brands is that they’re loved by consumers and make the perfect pairing. We have a similar passionate foundation between the two brands. If you look at grocery store data you will see that Mountain Dew and Doritos are purchased more together than peanut butter and jelly. It’s the perfect combo.

What else are you doing with the Super Bowl platform and content, and your involvement with the Super Bowl?

We’re activating on the ground in Minneapolis with a Lay’s Lounge, allowing consumers to come in and sample the product firsthand as well as to warm up.

In addition to that, on Game Day we’ll be very much looking to hear from our fans about how they feel about what they’ve seen and we’ll be releasing some additional content that will keep the entertainment and excitement going.


Get more insights in our Q&A series.

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