Frito-Lay's in-house shop is a full-service operation that rivals the big agencies
Frito-Lay’s in-house agency has transformed after an early focus on digital activations tied to external agency campaigns. Under the leadership of Chris Bellinger, VP of creative and digital, collaborating with Frito-Lay North America Chief Marketing Officer Rachel Ferdinando, it now feels more like its own shop. The Plano, Texas-based team produces everything from social posts to extended-length commercials starring the likes of Anna Kendrick and Tom Brady. It churns out work that not only looks like it could have been done by a big-name shop but is so effective, PepsiCo’s Quaker unit hired it for its own work.
In 2019, the agency produced 622 pieces of content. In 2020, that number exceeded 1,000.
Having staffers embedded into brand teams helps improve the work from the start. Before the 2020 Super Bowl, a "crunch time" campaign featured former National Football League players Terry Bradshaw, Tony Gonzalez, Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders with in-store messaging, videos, out-of-home and an on-site activation for fans in Miami. In all, it garnered 604 million media impressions.
A coronavirus spot that emphasized people, not product, got the company’s best-ever response to an ad, according to its consumer relations team, and in April 2020 was named the most empowering ad so far that year by Ace Metrix. After airing in the U.S., it ran in Europe, Mexico and South America.
And, with just eight weeks before the return of the National Football League season, the agency snagged director Peter Berg and football stars including Brady and Marshawn Lynch to shoot “’Twas the Night Before Kickoff” in three cities over three weekends, while the agency managed the process virtually.
It did so well that a “’Twas the Night Before Super Bowl” followed this February.
The agency’s first Quaker work was a relaunch campaign for Cap’n Crunch combining live action and animation. “Bellinger embraced our ‘scrappy marketing mentality,’ staffed up the right team for the business, and never allowed budget be a barrier to big thinking and great creative,” says Katie Scupham, a PepsiCo senior marketing director who oversees Quaker. “And since the in-house team consists of all PepsiCo employees, we realized meaningful cost savings that we funneled back into media on the brand.” Along with Cap’n Crunch, the agency is now handling work on Life cereal and Cheetos Mac’n Cheese.
The full-service creative team now has 30 full-time staffers, 30% of whom identify as diverse. There’s an emphasis on multicultural representation in executive account management and creative roles. And in late 2020, it established a diversity and inclusivity, cause and partnership director role.