The Complicated Business Of Getting Women To Buy Crap


According to today’s New York Times, selling chips to chicks is tricky business, which is why Frito-Lay has “researched women’s feelings about snacking and guilt.” Uh-oh.

According to Frito-Lay research, women snack only 14% of the time on salty foods. 25% of the time, women choose sweet foods; the other 61% of snacking includes drinks, fruits and vegetables. Sounds fine…unless you’re trying to sell salty chips.

Writes Stephanie Clifford:

Though Frito-Lay had often tried advertising snacks as guilt-free, this led to the conclusion that “we’re not going to alleviate her guilt,” Ms. Nykoliation [of the ad agency] said. “This is something in her life. So the question for us was, how do we not trip her guilt?”
Part of the strategy was to follow the success of SunChips by toning down the packaging and showing off healthy ingredients in the snacks.
“She wants a reminder that she’s eating something better for her,” Mr. Jones said.

The company will ditch the bright packaging of Baked Lay’s and make it beige and more “healthy” looking. Plus, Frito-Lay has launched a new website, “A Woman’s World.” Here’s where four “fab, funny, fearlessly female” cartoon women talk about exercising, eating and men. They’ll star in ads, commercials and webisodes. (In one clip, one cartoon woman is going to Mexico and the other says to her, “So you’re ready? All over? For a romantic getaway?” And the vacation-bound cartoon chick realizes she needs to go “tanning, waxing, buffing, lifting, plucking, polishing.”) The site also has games, like “Anna’s Yoga Boot Camp,” in which, as a tipster notes, you have to run around catering to other people’s needs. Just like a woman should! Meanwhile, at the grocery store, Frito-Lay will “pull all of its women-friendly snacks together at the end of the aisle where possible.” Gannon Jones, the vice president for portfolio marketing at the company told the Times: “Often the chip aisle is disorganized and unappealing to women.” Hear that ladies? You’re having trouble navigating the chip aisle. They’re gonna fix it for you.

Here’s the thing about this lavish attention and expensive marketing: They want you to buy something you don’t really need, and they’re using your gender to shill it to you, even though statistics prove you’d rather have “drinks, fruits or vegetables.” Even more interesting: Frito-Lay also owns Doritos, and a South American ad campaign references women in a very different way:

The copy reads, “Summer has arrived. More heat, less clothes.” It may not make you want to eat chips, but neither do these cartoon ladies talking about push-up bras.

Frito-Lay Tries to Enter the Minds (and Lunch Bags) of Women [NY Times]
The Dorito Ain’t Gonna Eat Itself. [Copyranter]
Related: A Woman’s World

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