Lay’s Potato Chips Bets on ‘The Voice,’ Coachella and Snapchat

For the next several weeks, John Legend’s favorite snack is likely to be a bag of Lay’s Potato Chips.

Viewers of NBC’s “The Voice” will see the famous musician in an assortment of videos telling them about a range of new flavors for the snack that range from cheddar jalapeno, sea salt and vinegar Poppable and “flamin’ hot” Kettle Cooked to the return of varieties such as fried green tomato for a limited run. “Some people think of me as serious all the time,” says Legend, in a brief interview, but they will see a different side of him in the videos. “A lot of our fans are young, and I think this will be fun and exciting to them.”

In a different era, a big brand like Lay’s might spray commercials all over TV to get the word out about a bevy of new tastes. In 2020, however, it will put the bulk of its spending for the effort into just three different places. Armed with data showing younger consumers find Lay’s to be one of their favorite snacks, Lay’s is working to create experiences around activities proven to attract the demographic known a “Generation Z” – people born between 1995 and 2015 who pay more attention to content that supports their entertainment, rather than interrupting it.

“Finding the right way to add to their experiences is really critical to us as a brand,” says Sadira Furlow, vice president of marketing of potato chip and value brands at PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay North America, in an interview. Younger consumers “don’t want us to just tell them stuff, but show them how we are helping them to have more experiences in life.”

So rather than create a single ad and hope viewers will embrace it, Lay’s is working to meet younger customers in places they are known to frequent – and then, hopefully, bolster the interactions they have there. The plan spotlights the fact that even some of Madison Avenue’s biggest brands are placing new emphasis on crafting bespoke promotions tailored to individual programs, rather than devising monolithic ad campaigns that rely on a single commercial, creative conceit or slogan placed across dozens of media outlets. This campaign is “a bit more targeted and experiential, versus past efforts,” says Furlow.

Since viewers of “The Voice” are often discovering new talent, Lay’s hopes they will be interested in learning about new chip flavors. Legend, one of the show’s coaches, will be featured in various bespoke promotional vignettes that accompany the program. Fans can also visit www.LaysAndTheVoice.com through April 17 to answer weekly trivia during “The Voice” or enter an on-pack code from participating bags of Lay’s for a chance to win prizes, including a trip to see a live taping of “The Voice” in Los Angeles.

Other parts of the campaign take Lay’s to emerging frontiers. Lay’s will be woven into “Endless Summer,” the Snapchat original docu-series that focuses on young people living around Laguna Beach, California. “Things you might pick up at a convenience store for different occasions are woven into the narrative of the story in a more organic way,” says Furlow.

And Lay’s will be featured at the long-running Coachella festival in a unique way. – in a first for any snack product at the event. “It’s a place we have never been,”
she says.

Lay’s will operate an on-site “dispensary,” says Furlow, where visitors will get access to a variety of limited-edition flavors – some of which aren’t normally available in the United States. Attendees will answer questions about their interest in spicy foods or their interest in cheese flavors, she says, and, based on their answers, get to try different chips. Frito-Lay will likely “pull up several trucks and open the doors,” she says, in order to keep the attraction stocked throughout the event.

The marketing efforts follow a large change-up in Lay’s packaging unveiled in September. The redesign, the brand’s first since 2007, features pictures of the product shot from a “top-down” angle that emulates what a view might look like on Instagram.

Expect more from the snack, which generates “multi-billions” in sales each year, according to the executive. “We’ve got more to come.”

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