Spicy sales: Tostitos looks to kick its campaign up a notch with Kate McKinnon, Dan Levy

As the saying goes, sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying. Over the last year of dealing with social isolation amid a global pandemic, many consumers have sought more lighthearted entertainment to bring some levity to their days. Snack brand Frito-Lay understands late-night snacking and comedy go hand-in-hand, and the company recently leveraged the comedic star power of Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live) and Dan Levy (Schitt’s Creek) in an ad campaign to promote the habanero flavor of Tostitos chips.

In one spot running across digital channels and linear TV, McKinnon and Levy try to one-up each other with gestures and other ways to describe just how spicy Tostitos habanero chips are. A second spot with the comedic duo will air in April. Frito-Lay marketers believe that the commercials succeed by celebrating friends having fun together – something most of the population has been unable to do during the last 12 months.

With people staying home and consuming both food and entertainment, the pandemic certainly hasn’t hurt major snack brands. In fact, Frito-Lay’s net revenue climbed 7% to $18.2 billion last year, driven by demand for Tostitos along with Doritos, Cheetos, and Ruffles. Other chip companies, such as Utz and Pringles, have seen their sales surge during 2020 as well. As Budweiser and others pulled out of the Super Bowl, Pringles was one of the major brands to spend for a spot featuring Rick and Morty. Meanwhile, Utz plans on increasing its digital ad spending in 2021 by 60%. Frito-Lay’s decision to work with two of the comedy world’s biggest stars right now is a savvy decision. Comedy does well as a genre across the board with chip buyers, but according to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, Tostitos in particular has the greatest percentage of US consumers who enjoy comedies, with 79% favoring the genre, compared to 72% of Wheat Thins buyers on the lower end of the spectrum.