Technology has become notorious for de-humanizing society, but Frito-Lay may have found a way to flip this accusation around with its new campaign. The PepsiCo subsidiary is running a back-to-school promotion for its variety chips packets that combines a “talk bubble” on the packaging to inspire parents to write encouraging notes to their children, a new Alexa skill, and a digital sweepstakes. Personalization is fast becoming a trend, but so is healthfulness, meaning Frito-Lay’s emotional appeal could go to waste.
Frito-Lay’s new campaign taps into the personalization trend, which has already been employed in a similar way by a few other school lunch staples such as Dole Fruit Bowls and Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treats. The promotion, dubbed “Snackable Notes”, also loops in the growing interest in voice technology. Though two in five consumers now own devices integrated with voice assistants including Alexa, 60% of them never use the technology to make purchases. Frito-Lay acknowledges this by having the skill centered on helping parents make notes instead. The company also swaps selling for gamification by diverting participants to a website where they can submit photos of their best notes for a chance to win a weekly $1,000 prize.
In the past, Frito-Lay has featured YouTube influencers in campaigns and hosted online contests. Still, the snack seller is a bit of a digital laggard, contributing to the extra-wide range among food enterprises in PepsiCo’s overall portfolio according to Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Food. Though consumer tastebuds have become more health conscious, focusing more on ingredients and less on brand names, snack categories including chips are de-prioritizing site investments. For example, although Cheetos maintains a dedicated brand site, visitors are presented with a scrolling list of the brand’s social media content rather than product details—customers seeking nutrition information are simply redirected to the Frito-Lay parent company site.
By not including ingredient information on brand sites, Frito-Lay risks losing out on health-conscious parents buying snacks for their kids’ school lunches, rendering the new campaign fruitless. Though the promotion serves a noble outward purpose, it might be more effective for Frito-Lay to work on keeping consumers in the know when it comes to what goes inside its snacks as opposed to what goes on the outside of them.