Marketing in the moment: Cheetos rides an earned-media wave by tapping customer sentiment

Cheetos, a cheese-flavored snack owned by Frito-Lay, has driven consumer attention and engagement by turning to its online fans for inspiration.

One person’s misshapen, cheesy snack food is another person’s piece of art.

Just ask the most passionate fans of Cheetos, the crispy, cheese-puff snack that has been around since the 1940s.

Ryan Matiyow, senior director/marketing for North America,...