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Responsible Marketing

I’ve got some Cheetos. Let’s go vandalize something!

By May 29, 2008March 14th, 20213 Comments

Are you ready to join the Orange Underground? You know, a place where you can cause a little mischief (RAoC – Random Acts of Cheetos) then upload your videos to YouTube and become rich (in Cheetos) and famous (on Comedy Central)?

Here are a few of the professionally produced ads from the Orange Underground campaign:

Okay, so they are humorous, sort of. And taken in and of themselves, pretty harmless.

But Cheetos and ad agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners of San Francisco weren’t interested in pretty harmless.


It’s all about going viral these days, folks.

It’s about building community.

Heck, create a movement if you can.

At the end of each ad, you are invited to “Join Now” by visiting When you do, you are greeted by the twenty-something below who tells you what it’s all about.

This “underground” is trying so hard and feels so phony, it’s like a bad SNL skit that won’t end. And I don’t mean so bad it’s good.

So, what’s the deal with Random Acts of Cheetos, anyway?

Bob Garfield describes it in his Ad Age article, Cheetos Ads That Promote ‘Random Acts’ Are Irresponsible:

. . .there is another word for Random Acts of Cheetos: vandalism. The Cheetos Underground explicitly incites its shadowy network of crap eaters not only to perpetrate mischief but to document their petty crimes on video for the Cheetos website.

Encouraging vandalism can hardly be considered socially responsible. But luckily for homeowners, teachers, bosses and innocent bystanders, this campaign wasn’t strategic or execution responsible and few have been molested with the orange snack.

The underground campaign failed to recognize that this demographic seeks authenticity (an underground better look like an underground, not a Cheetos-branded one).

And why would you have an animated spokes-tiger for a campaign like this? Remove him from the ads and they become instantly darker and more disturbing.

I don’t get it, but is it working? I don’t know, but consider these facts:

The blog is a ghost town (11 total posts, 26 total comments). There are only 135 user-generated videos on YouTube. And the total YouTube downloads over the last three months for all three videos above is a paltry 277,800 (70% are for the laundry commercial alone).

Compare those view counts to some of the other viral videos discussed here over the last few months:

So, what’s the bigger crime?

Trying to incite vandalism or the execution of the campaign itself?

Comment below to weigh in.

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • I was bothered by the Cheetos ads the first time I viewed them. To glorify any prank – to call something good when it isn’t, is just plain wrong thinking.

    Unfortunately, the Cheetos campaign reflects a growing attitude in our culture – a general lack of respect and concern for the well-being of others.

    These ads break the Golden Rule big time. I’m glad they’re not all that successful, which indicates that some people out there ARE thinking correctly.

  • Deston says:

    When faced with these ads, I first have to remember I’m not the target demographic. I can certainly hate them (I agree it’s like a lame SNL skit), but I’d be interested in what it does for their bottom line.

  • boycott frito-lay says:

    I’m not buying any fritolay products as long as they keep up this sort of thing, and I am very glad they aren’t successful with it…..

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