Off the Eaten Path and Getting Back On

Picture 14Perception-wise, Frito Lay has never been a beacon of healthy snacks (more like the bacon of healthy snacks). I mean, who’s kidding whom? When your competitors would brag how 30% less grease wipes off on your pants compared to Lay’s chips, you know you’re in a special kind of category concerning health. All of this may account for the confusion when embracing the start of the health trend in America.

Anyone my age (22) and older has seen Lays potato chips at their worst when it came to this health crossover. Remember Olestra? It’s okay if you don’t, it’s the fat-substitute that helped make Lay’s chips fat free, but that’s not the part you would remember. It’s when you looked at the bag and saw the following warning later described on the news as: “May cause Anal Leakage.” Mmmm. Can eating always sound this fun?

However, Frito Lay learned from its mistakes. Since then they have created healthy brand extensions such as BAKED! LAYS (a baked version of it’s most popular chip), as well as a new set of health brands under their portfolio. Prepare for a list which will shock you with their relation to Frito Lay: Flat Earth Snacks (vegetable crisps), True North (nuts), and Miss Vickies (modeled after Artisan chips now popular in organic stores). It’s no surprise that you may not have known the relationship; the only notable reference on the package is the mandatory size 5 font which says the distributor name. That’s a healthy brand move since Frito doesn’t have the best health perception. This kind of packaging method seems underhanded but it removes people’s bias toward giving these new brands a chance. And then, once discovered, it turns out to be a pleasant surprise more than being dooped (like Pizza Hut revealing it made the pasta, “Oh no way, and here I was all bias and you caught me. I actually liked it!”).

Ladies’ Bite
America’s health movement isn’t slowing down yet. Frito knows, if given the proper perception, its BAKED! LAYS and Flat Earth Snacks can become a lifestyle snack for the female population. To make this a reality they have ventured into a new webisode series entitled, Only In A Woman’s World. I came across this while seeing it advertised on one of my favorite blogs to read which lead me to their website. The site feels healthy, giving this light, girly, spring-time freshness to the art direction. We are greeted with a 1-minute teaser trailer which gives us an idea of the personalities of their four star-toons. The humor was cute and very much like Sex And The City. And, it must be on target with women because it had me looking up what control tops were. After my brief education, I also found the site had two games: one is a memory game, the other a multi-tasking game. They start off way too easy, but I was surprised with how well they held my attention as they increase in difficulty.

A Google search didn’t pull much activity on forums or blogs. YouTube seems to be the only place where there’s legitimate buzz. Since the teaser trailer was posted on 2/11/09 it has amassed 919,164 views (definitely not all unique impressions as one commenter noted: “This is cute I mostly watch it over and over again. I wanna see this:]” In fact, looking at all 248 comments, posts ranging from 13-22 year old women (I checked their profiles), the reception is pretty warm.

I will be checking back after their March 1st launch to give my full impression on this campaign. For now, everything seems to be in place take Frito Lay’s health brands back on the eaten path.


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