Wise Rocks Out With Augmented Reality Campaign

Cheez DudesMove over, Chester Cheetah -- here come the "Cheez Dudes." In a bid to inject new life into its venerable Cheez Doodles brand, Wise Foods Inc. Monday introduced a trio of new animated mascots designed to lure tweens and teens to the famously orange snack food.

The Berwick, PA-based company also kicked off a contest built around the alt-rocker "Cheez Dudes" that uses augmented reality (AR) to let users create 3D videos for a chance to win musical gear to start their own garage band. The interactive campaign also extends the updated branding to social media like Facebook and Twitter.

"The way we're using augmented reality is a way for us to create a more innovative, hip brand personality for Cheez Doodles that will hopefully broaden our demographic," said Kevin Foltz, brand manager at Wise Foods. Traditionally, the snack food has appealed mainly to moms and kids 8 to 12. With the new marketing push, Wise now wants to make Cheez Doodles a cool brand for tweens and teen-agers as well.

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A key part of that effort is its Rock The Cheez! contest launched on a new Cheez Doodles branded site. The AR-based promotion invites kids to create their own paper or cardboard stages for the Cheez Dudes to "rock out" with original songs. Users then point their Web cams to printed-out patterns for each character on their mini-stages to create videos of the 3D images appearing on screen.

The top prize for the winning video submitted includes a Fender Stratocaster Guitar, a Fender Precision Bass, and a complete Tama drum kit. Those signing up for the contest also automatically enter a sweespstakes for the chance to win $1,000.

Doritos earlier this year used AR technology to promote a pair of new chip flavors in an effort that let people hold Doritos bags up to their Web cams to see specially recorded music videos from Big Boi and Blink 182. But Foltz believes the Cheez Dudes contest is differentiated from similar AR projects in the level of participation it offers consumers.

Developing the AR contest and entire online campaign -- including a Facebook fan page and Twitter site -- for Cheez Doodles was New York-based digital marketing firm Zemoga, which beat out three other agencies for the assignment. (Wise declined to disclose the dollar amount of the effort.)

For a regional, old-line company like Wise, the leap into high-tech marketing has been something of a departure. "This is definitely a step outside the norm for Wise -- and in starting to get into working in viral and social media, this is one of the first projects we are working on," said Foltz.

And if it can help Wise grab market share from the arch rival Cheetos brand from Frito-Lay and its smooth, sunglasses-wearing mascot Chester Cheetah, then all the better, according to Foltz. Even so, the company has not completely abandoned more conventional marketing approaches.

To that end, two million Cheez Doodle grocery-sized bags will hit shelves in East Coast supermarkets with stickers featuring a call to action for the Cheez Dudes contest. And eight-foot in-store Cheez Doodle displays will appear with header cards calling out the promotion, along with shelf danglers. A related email newsletter will also go out to 70,000 registered Wise Snacks coupon subscribers.

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