Weird Humor a Winner for Cheetos


The Other Hand


Cheetos new “It’s A Cheetos Thing” ad starts with a fact – 99% of Cheetos eaters use their dominant hand to snack on the product. So what’s the other hand doing? The ad from agency Goodby Silverstein imagines a world where people try and do their day jobs and eat Cheetos at the same time – and it’s the Cheetos that take priority, leading to a series of unfortunate and hilarious outcomes. Football players (including celebrity Jamal Murray), sketch artists and even a plastic surgeon are seen using their ‘off’ hand to do their work. It doesn’t go well.

The ad fits well with Cheetos’ recent campaigns, which has taken one of the most famous, distinctive, but also divisive aspects of the Brand – the lurid orange dust it leaves on hands – and defiantly turned it into an asset. Cheetos have run a series of quirky ads celebrating “Cheetos Things”. They haven’t been afraid to use humor and to sometimes push that humor into edgier places than most brands are willing to go. Ending your ad with a guy whose nose has been mistakenly removed in a botched operation is a line most brands would hesitate to cross. Cheetos go there, and get a laugh out of it.

The ad scores 3.5-Stars on the Test Your Ad platform – a good score and broadly in line with the average for salty snacks. Where it stands out is on the shorter term Spike Rating, where it gets an Exceptional score and one well above the category average. Salty snacks tend to do well on short-term Spike – after all, it’s a category designed to tempt consumers into impulse buys – but Cheetos have excelled themselves here. It also gets a massive 98% Brand Fluency, in a category where the average is only 82%. Some snack ads end up advertising the category, or the occasion, more than their actual product. Nobody would accuse Cheetos of doing that – this ad could only be for one brand.

The ad is an illustration of the benefits of going hard on one particular aspect of your product that’s uniquely and distinctively yours, even if it’s one that some people don’t like. It also shows that using humor, even quite dark humor, isn’t necessarily a turn-off for audiences.

Humor gives you permission to go a little nearer the edge visually, which helps you to stand out from other ads. It also appeals to the right-hand side of the brain, which likes to spot the incongruities and unspoken connections which make jokes work, and as we know from Orlando Wood’s Look out, right-brained advertising tends to be more commercially effective. After a period when funny ads were in decline, Cheetos work is part of a trend towards more humor, and often riskier humor, in ads. And while not every ad which tries for this will succeed, it’s an encouraging direction for the industry.

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