Cheetos and Amazon Ads created a kitchen gadget for snack lovers. Here’s why it sold out in just two hours

July 13, 2023 | By Jareen Imam, Sr. Content & Editorial Manager

Over the past few years, the team at Cheetos noticed an exciting trend taking over social media: Innovative Cheetos enthusiasts were adding the cheesy snack to their favorite recipes.

“From Cheetos-coated mozzarella sticks to Flamin’ Hot turkey legs to Cheetos-rimmed cocktails and even Cheetos-dusted ice cream,” said Tina Mahal, senior vice president of marketing for Frito-Lay, “fans have incorporated Cheetle into recipes to elevate dishes to epic proportions.”

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Seeing this trend, Cheetos and Amazon Ads Brand Innovation Lab collaborated to develop the Cheetos Duster, the first-ever kitchen gadget that grinds up Cheetos into dust, or “Cheetle,” for fans to add to recipes. Just in time for the 2022 holiday season, Cheetos released the gadget exclusively in the Amazon store to thunderous excitement.

“We saw an incredible reaction from our fans. We released about 2,000 Cheetos Dusters and sold out in just two hours,” Mahal said. “Since then, we have continued to see increased demand for the product across the internet, proving the enthusiasm customers have for it.”

Dive into our interview with Mahal as she shares what it was like for Cheetos to work with the Amazon Ads Brand Innovation Lab team of in-house designers, art directors, design technologists, writers, solutions managers, and producers to create this memorable campaign.

Tell me about the inspiration behind creating the Cheetos Duster.

We’ve seen a dramatic increase in customers enjoying our products beyond the traditional snacking occasion and into cooking as an ingredient to take their favorite recipes to the next level. This holds true for Cheetos as we saw that adult Gen Z audiences were posting about how they love to crush up Cheetos and add the cheesy dust to recipes.

We also know this audience is interested in tailored content—whether in the unique content they create, the experiences they seek, or the recipes they make. Adult Gen Z consumers want the flexibility to tailor all facets of their life.1

Finally, adult Gen Z consumers have a lot of passion for “in demand” drops—whether that’s sneaker drops, new-music Friday, or new-gadget launches. They want to be the first to know about something and grab it before it’s gone. With these insights in mind, we saw an opportunity to make it even easier—and fun—for consumers to design their favorite recipes with Cheetle: introducing the Cheetos Duster, the kitchen gadget that Cheetos fans never knew they needed.

What problem was Cheetos trying to solve with this product?

We sought to increase product consumption among adult Gen Z customers by offering a new way for them to enjoy Cheetos—and Cheetle—during an occasion outside of snacking. The Cheetos Duster is the first-ever kitchen device dedicated to making Cheetle. Simply fill the glass jar with any of the fan-favorite Cheetos snacks. From there, screw the jar onto the base, hold the Duster at an angle, and press the power button to start blending. And within seconds, you have Cheetle to add into your favorite recipes. Our customers are mixing Cheetle in with bread crumbs, adding to spice mixes, sprinkling on as a garnish, and so much more.

When did the Cheetos Duster campaign launch, and what ad solutions helped with that process?

We worked with Amazon Ads to launch the Duster campaign during one of the most important shopping days of the year: Black Friday. Along with conceiving the Cheetos Duster, the Amazon Ads Brand Innovation Lab worked with us to develop a 90-second infomercial parody touting the bells and whistles of the cooking world’s hottest new gadget.

The campaign also includes a branded recipe hub where customers can get the ingredients they need in one place. These recipes include everything from Cheetos-dusted poutine, mozzarella sticks, hot dogs, birthday cake, doughnuts, and more. We brought additional awareness for this campaign by leveraging Amazon Ads solutions like video ads and display ads anywhere customers spend their time, which helped direct viewers to the Store page where customers could order the Cheetos Duster.

How did audiences react to the Duster campaign?

We saw an unbelievable reaction from our fans. We released about 2,000 Cheetos Dusters and sold out in just two hours. Since then we have continued to see unprecedented demand for the product across the internet, proving the enthusiasm customers have for it. The campaign saw incredible buzz across social and online media, and we also got press coverage. Plus, this campaign contributed to a 149% increase in YOY sales.2

Cheetos and Amazon Ads have worked together on a few recent projects prior to this campaign. Can you tell me more about that?

Prior to the Cheetos Duster release, Cheetos and Amazon Ads joined forces at SXSW last year to host the “Hands-Free House,” an immersive experience that demonstrated how hands-free technology supports a Cheetle-covered-hands lifestyle. It’s been a pleasure working with Amazon Ads, as both Cheetos and Amazon Ads have a shared vision to bring unique content and products to customers, based on customer-driven shopping interactions.

What gets you excited about marketing nowadays? What do you want to see more of?

I always appreciated the brands that really understand the “why” behind the “what” of their programming. It means really getting to the heart of shopping insights and uncovering what role you can play in solving a problem. Ultimately, that helps brands really understand their purpose, meaning why they exist and how they can serve consumers beyond the transaction.

At Frito-Lay, our purpose is to provide moments of joy for consumers. And that comes to life in so many ways across the breadth of our portfolio. For Cheetos, it’s about mischievous fun.

In your opinion, what’s the best way to reach and engage customers now to create brand love?

At Frito-Lay, we’re fans of our fans: We stay connected with what they are passionate about and the unique things they love about our products. This often serves as natural and authentic inspiration for our campaigns.

It’s so important to really understand your fans on a deeper level so that you are bringing them something that adds value to their lives. For us, we’re always looking to find ways to bring real moments of joy, whether that be supporting a cause they care deeply about, bringing back a favorite flavor, or creating an innovative kitchen gadget to make mealtime that much more mischievous, in a fun way.

1 Streamly, “Marketing Content to Gen Z Survey,” US, 2023.
2 Client-provided data, US, 2022