Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Halftime: Touching Moment Or Marketing Gone Too Far?

January 11, 2011

During halftime of last night’s Fiesta Bowl, Tostitos– the game’s title sponsor  – partnered with USO to surprise four military families by reuniting them with a loved one returned from overseas.

The halftime show was a 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.

It’s one thing to reunite with an old friend, a distant cousin, a co-worker or a classmate. Reuniting with a loved one who’s returning from military duty overseas is something of a different story. Was Tostitos’ effort an undeniably good deed or a manipulation of a highly personal moment for commercial gain?

On Twitter, the pathos seemed to hit home with most consumers:

Still, there were some observers who felt Tostitos may have crossed the line:

Following the halftime event, Tostitos urged consumers to go to its Facebook page and become a fan. The Tostitos Facebook page received about 1,000 Likes in the half-hour following halftime– roughly a 0.003 percent conversion rate with an estimated viewing audience of 30 million. That’s a low number considering the placement.

Did you see last night’s halftime show? What did you think?