Snack food may be a guilty pleasure — but the campaigns can be compelling. As senior vice president, marketing for Frito-Lay, part of PepsiCo, Tina Mahal directs creative campaigns for popular food brands such as Cheetos, Doritos and Tostitos.
A big shoutout: The nearly 20-year company veteran spearheaded Frito-Lay's debut partnership with the 2022 FIFA World Cup, making the product the first salty snack collaborator in the game's history.
And she added star power by leveraging its legendary players, such as Mia Hamm and David Beckham.
Soccer is the fastest-growing sport in North America, and the company pushed its new sponsorship to acknowledge that reality.
The result? The campaign garnered more than 4 billion earned-media impressions, and made Fritos the snack du jour for the game.
In fact, before taking on her role of senior vice president earlier this spring, Mahal served as vice president, brand marketing at Frito-Lay.
In this capacity, she grew the brands' businesses — leading the dips' businesses to 2.7 points of share gain and achieving 10% growth on all brands as of this spring.
Mahal also aligned brand values with consumers. “This year, we leveraged one of the most iconic brands in baseball -- Cracker Jack -- and flipped the script to celebrate the stories of women breaking barriers in sports by introducing Cracker Jill,” says Mahal.
Five depictions of Jill on special-edition bags highlighted empowerment to girls.
With 9.2 billion earned impressions, Cracker Jill achieved 41% overall share of media impressions against other brands activating around MLB Opening Day. It also showcased society’s diversity.
“Our goal was to demonstrate our commitment to expanding the representation of women in sports in action -- putting even more financial support behind it through a $200,000 donation to the Women’s Sports Foundation,” she says. In addition, 6,000 donations have been made to the foundation via CrackerJill.com.
“What is timeless about good creative advertising is the need for a compelling insight,” Mahal adds. “Consumers are interested in how you turn an insight into entertainment or something that is relevant to them.” To her, authenticity is paramount.
Prior to PepsiCo, Mahal was part of the SC Johnson Ltd. marketing team in Canada, where she worked on brands such as Raid Off!, Ziploc and Windex.
But Mahal is committed to looking ahead, not back. Noting the great innovations in the media space, she is determined to be at the forefront.
“At Frito-Lay, we have a world-class media team and valued partners, and we are constantly challenging ourselves to be experimental in this space. We know that consumers juggle more screens that ever before — with 51% of Gen Zers checking their phones every few minutes. We take this insight into consideration when developing media plans, and we push for some element of experimentation in every big campaign we do.”
Success is not just quantitative; it's also qualitative.
“I try to lead with kindness, empathy and high expectations. Like most leaders, I like challenge and I like to see progress,” she says. “With all the volatility in the world, I've learned being a good leader and having high empathy can go hand in hand."