- Presented by Frito-Lay

2 Minutes With ... Leslie Vesper, VP of Brand Marketing at Frito-Lay

On the success of Cracker Jill and sponsoring the FIFA Women's World Cup

As vice president of brand marketing at Frito-Lay, Leslie Vesper looks after all the marketing initiatives for the Tostitos and Smartfood brands as well as Frito-Lay's dips and macrosnacks portfolios. Prior to that, Leslie led Frito Lay's innovation planning, strategy, and reporting across all snacking brands as well as innovation capabilities within the marketing organization.

She started her career at PepsiCo with roles on the shopper marketing team and on the foodservice culinary innovation team. Prior to PepsiCo, Leslie worked at Dr Pepper Snapple Group leading the Dr Pepper, Crush and Schweppes brands. She started her marketing career at General Mills. 

We spent two minutes with Leslie to learn more about her background, her creative inspirations and recent work she's admired.

Leslie, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

Grew up 30 mins south of Cleveland, Ohio. Currently living in Dallas, Texas.

Your earliest sports memory.

I grew up with a sports enthusiast dad. The first major sporting event he ever took me to was a freezing cold Cleveland Browns game. I distinctly remember having a thermos of hot cocoa keeping me warm until it was knocked over by a passerby. I attribute my love of sports and football today to my dad.

Your favorite sports team.

As a University of Texas alum, the Longhorns football team. Hook 'em horns!

Your favorite athlete.

Jordan Spieth as I know a lot about him thanks to my son's love for golf! Jordan has a fantastic foundation and does a lot for the community on and off the course. He also went to University of Texas, which doesn't hurt.

Your favorite sports show or podcast.

College game day on ESPN. There's nothing better than waking up on a Saturday morning to the exciting fandom and learning about the players.

Your favorite sports movie or video game.

The Natural.

Your favorite sports ad of all time.

In the late '90s Nike had started the "Just Do It" commercials. This campaign actually motivated me to run my first marathon in Chicago. I went on to then run two more marathons, including the Boston marathon.

Talk about Cracker Jill. What was the impetus for the campaign?

Cracker Jack has had a tie to sports for over 100 years. This gave us the authentic tie-in to play in the sports space but we knew there was a huge gap in giving women a voice and representation in sports. We sought out to be a partner for female athletes with the insight that sometimes all it takes to inspire someone is seeing someone else like them do it first.

We leveraged the 125+ year icon, Cracker Jack, to further the brand's mission to increase gender equality in sports with Cracker Jill.

After a successful inaugural year, Cracker Jill expanded this year into retail nationwide and the I Am Cracker Jill Award contest (750+ entries for the #IAmCrackerJill this year).

What's next for the initiative?

We have been overwhelmed by the support and passion this campaign has seen. As part of its mission to raise the visibility of girls and women in sports to inspire the next generation, Cracker Jack is recognizing nine young women with the I Am Cracker Jill Award. These recipients are changing the face of the game one goal, one run or one point at a time and will receive $5,000 from Cracker Jack to support their sports endeavors. One of the finalists was also selected to represent aspiring female athletes across the country by being the first athlete to join the Cracker Jill roster and appear on special-edition Cracker Jill packaging.

You're backing the Women's World Cup in a big way. What are some highlights?

We're thrilled to have announced our continued relationship with FIFA as a North American Regional Supporter for the upcoming FIFA Women's World Cup.

I'm especially proud that this partnership marks Frito-Lay's largest-ever investment in women's sports and underscores our commitment to celebrate the greatness of this historic moment in women's soccer. This collaboration builds upon Frito-Lay's ongoing investment in sports to engage more fans and create opportunities for more players at all levels regardless of their background, gender or demographic.

Someone else's project that you admired recently.

Gatorade's "The Way To Be Great" campaign, narrated by Eminem. A great way to tap into the nostalgia of the "Be Like Mike" campaign with a modern touch.

What sports can do that nothing else can.

I saw a stat the other day that 94 percent of C-suite women played sports. That is such a powerful stat that goes to show the ways sports builds confidence, leadership skills and adaptability.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in the sports branding world.

I'm very interested in nutrition so I think I would be a food scientist or a dietician.

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