When you’re targeting young adults, Rudy Wilson says, you quickly realize that trends are equally as important as understanding their behavior.
“They love one thing one minute, hate something the next minute,” says Wilson, vp of marketing at Frito-Lay North America. “The biggest thing we have to realize is that trends are timely; that they always evolve and they always change. It’s being able to make sure that you’re early on the adoption curve, not at the back end of it.”
When thinking of a way to get ahead of that curve and enhance young adults’ late night experience with Doritos, Wilson and his team called on two major influences: food and music. Specifically live music.
The Doritos team introduced jalapeno popper-, cheeseburger- and taco-flavored tortilla chips as “late night” food options. Then, they worked on figuring out how to take the live concert experience to a new level.
A budding technology turned out to be the answer.
“At that time, augmented reality was always just with cartoons,” Wilson explains. “There was never an augmented reality [application] that leveraged live video, so we had to work with our agencies to figure out, how do we really push the envelope with this so that you could essentially have a concert in the palm of your hand?”
Advertising agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners suggested an augmented reality technology that recreates a live concert just by holding a bag of Doritos in front of a web cam. And, depending on how consumers hold or shake the bag, the performance changes every time.
Design agency Pearlfisher gave the packaging a nighttime, concert-like feel. A dark background features typography resembling fluorescent lighting while a special symbol on the back enables the 3D concert experience with the popular blink-182 band and Big Boi. In effect, the special edition packages, launched in partnership with Ticketmaster, were “tickets” to digital concerts. When the “tickets,” or bags, became available, they sold out in a number of hours, Wilson says.

Special-edition bags of Doritos Late Night chips used augmented reality to create a virtual 3D concert.

This project was an eye opener for Wilson, crystallizing his views on the impact packaging-led marketing efforts could have on his brands.
“I realized that essentially our packaging has the equivalent of an impression,” Wilson says.
Packaging, along with many other variables, has led to great performance across the Doritos line, he says. But to get to successful packaging, Wilson says he enforces a philosophy in which everyone is involved and works cohesively.
“It’s all about making sure that everyone stays included from the beginning,” he says. “It’s important to me when we do the briefing and when we talk about the concept that all the agencies are there so they can hear the evolution of the idea; they can hear what drives the idea and the concept, so that when we do get to their part, they feel enrolled and energized about being part of the whole program.”
Beyond Doritos, Wilson is responsible for managing the strategic vision of the SunChips, Cheetos and Fritos brands in his current position as the vice president of marketing for Frito-Lay North America.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Arizona State University and an MBA from the University of Michigan, Wilson worked at General Mills as a buyer in the company’s supply chain organization. When he joined Frito-Lay in 2002, he was an assistant marketing manager for the Tostitos brand. Part of his duties were to manage the brand’s sports strategy, which included a multi-million dollar Fiesta Bowl sponsorship. From there, he developed product innovation plans for Walmart and worked on the SunChips brand, including a cause marketing program with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, before joining Doritos in 2006.
As the brand manager for Doritos, Wilson worked on the high-profile Crash the SuperBowl campaign, which asked consumers to create their own ad about why they love Doritos; consumers voted for their favorite online, and the winning ad aired during the SuperBowl.
If there’s one thing to point out about Wilson’s character, it’s that he’s not one to just sit back and ride out his successes.
“We will always be looking to try to see what’s next,” he says. “Whether that’s augmented reality or something new, I would just say keep your eyes open. I think you’ll be happy in the future.” BP

NAME: Rudy Wilson
TITLE: vice president of marketing at Frito-Lay North America
YEARS IN CURRENT JOB: 1 (8 years with Frito-Lay)
BEST ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED? From my parents: “Good, better, best; Never let it rest; ‘Til the good gets better and the better gets best.”
WHAT BRANDS DO YOU ADMIRE? One brand I’m impressed with is the Survivor television show. It’s tough maintaining relevance and engagement year over year on an ongoing platform, and it’s amazing how Survivor continues to drive so much fan excitement.
WHAT’S ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND? The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini