I love Frito Lay. I’ve worked on their businesses at three out of my four agency career. And dag, nothing beats those Natural style Chee•Tos. But snacks are about mass appeal, about celebrating the common denominator of snacking and making everyone happy when you open a bag. Which is why the comments section of a recent item on the Huffington Post are so perfectly emblematic of dubious internet inputs.The article discusses what admittedly, seems like an unholy half-breed: a Lay’s line extension in China featuring Pepsi-flavored Chicken seasoning. Yep, the lip-smacking taste of delicious cola and chicken, together at last in a snack chip.I don’t pretend to understand the prevailing palate in China, but I do know Frito Lay does their homework. That’s how I sampled ham flavored Ruffles in Spain and recoiled at smelling a bag of seaweed flavored Lays from Japan. So Pepsi-Chicken must represent some sort of Chinese market localization opportunity. Still, in the pantheon of aggressively outré snack flavors, Pepsi-Chicken stands as a medal contender.
The truly fascinating part of this post was how many people weighed in purporting to love exotic snack flavors: prawn, chicken and dressing, beef and horseradish, even SPAM. These comments represent the long tail of the net; the fringe that, given a voice and a platform, make their opinions known. Loudly. And while it makes for interesting reading, it doesn’t come close to accurately reflecting the broad tastes of a market, the widespread appeal required to build $100MM line extensions. Much like hipster ad people who scoff at boring Middle America with its profusion of Olive Gardens, niche opinions can seem mainstream on the web, mostly because more middle of the road people aren’t as quick (or as motivated) to share their opinion.When marketers follow these blind alleys, the world enjoys products like Canfield’s Diet Fudge. But usually only once or twice before the novelty wears off and it’s back to Pepsi.
The web and social media are great sources for cultural sentiment. But you must always get a second opinion.
Or you’ll get Pepsi Clear…
By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson