Playing on its "mischievous" snack brand image, Frito-Lay's Cheetos has launched an Internet contest in which participants win rewards for goofing off and compete to be the "greatest break-taker alive."
The goal of the Cheetos Billion Minute Break is getting brand fans to rack up a billion cumulative minutes goofing off online. The promotion is the first sponsored program being run on Quests, a new addition to Meebo's Web check-in system that rewards users as they visit sites.
To participate in the Cheetos promotion, consumers visit cheetos.com, register and download a Meebo MiniBar browser extension. The extension then follows the user wherever he/she goes on the Web, letting them check in, share content and track time spent on the 100 official "goof-off" sites (humor, sports, popular entertainment) included in the promotion.
Rewards increase as users spend more time on the sites, achieving rankings and winning paper trophies and 20 different badges. The grand prize winners will receive 4-foot x 6-foot portraits of themselves made entirely out of Cheetos snacks.
According to Frito-Lay, research shows that workers can realize an overall productivity gain of 9% by taking short breaks to relax and surf the Web. "It's no surprise that people have been sneaking in time to goof off for years, but few realized it could actually be good for them," said Frito-Lay VP, marketing Tony Matta. "With the Cheetos Billion Minute Break, we're rewarding people for something they are already doing."
Still, given how much work productivity is already lost to personal Web time and phone calls at work, might businesses find this promotion less than humorous? "We're not encouraging people to break the rules at work," says Frito-Lay spokesperson Chris Kuechenmeister, "and some of this behavior takes place outside of work hours." He, too, stresses that the brand is "just rewarding people for existing behavior."
Meebo Quests uses rewards to encourage people to discover new Web content that fits with their interests. Each themed Quest has a dedicated page on the Meebo site that incorporates live updates and leaderboards. Quest activity and earned badges are displayed on the player's Meebo profile page. Users can check in to sites via Meebo's iPhone app (by clicking any link or scanning a QR code), as well as through the MiniBar available on Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Internet Explorer. The company reports that it will also be rolling out check-in functionality to its more than 8,000 Meebo Bar partner sites and through embedded check-in buttons.
A second, non-sponsored quest now in progress encourages users to explore and check into sites about summer movies. Meebo reaches 40% of the U.S. Internet audience and nearly 170 million unique users worldwide, according to comScore Media Metrix (March 2011).