Lays Ad: It's Just Chips. Really!

Posted by: David Kiley on February 10, 2009

This ad from Lays is of a particular genre I have yet to find a name for.

I’m open for suggestion from you readers, though.

I describe the genre this way. It’s an ad with very interesting art direction and story telling. More than an ad, it is a short film, a story. But the connection to a little bag of chips really escapes me. I love the dance of the inflatables—by the way.

It feels and looks an awful lot like an ad idea hatched by a creative team a few years ago, and they have been looking for a client to foist it upon. I worked at an agency where I saw this syndrome play out. In that case, there was a guy who recycled the same ad idea something like five or six times for different clients because he was enamored with the theme and idea.

I’m also struck by the fact that I felt like I could substitute any number of products for Lays and the ad would seem just as disconnected from these products: Life Savers, Pistachio nuts, condoms, Sudafed.

So, I need to come up with a name for this genre of indulgent advertising.

Here is something of an explanation of the ad and the new campaign pulled from Food Product Design:

DALLAS—Ad Age reported that Frito-Lay North America has hired Toronto-based Juniper Park ad agency to create a multimillion dollar campaign to highlight Lay’s potato chip image, pointing to the fact that the salty snack is made from just three ingredients—potatoes, sunflower oil and salt.

The "Happiness is Simple" campaign, which includes print, online and national TV spots, begins Jan. 18 and will result in a double-digit spending increase for Lay's this year.

Gannon Jones, vice president of marketing at Frito-Lay North America, said the new campaign isn't trying to elevate Lay’s to a health-and-wellness platform, but rather give permission to eat Lay's potato chips at a time when consumers have become increasingly concerned about their calorie and fat intake. The campaign also dials down the brand's more indulgent messaging of old, such as "Bet you can't eat just one."

"We're not trying to suggest that this is a hard-core health product at all," Jones said. "The line we're trying to walk with this campaign is to remind [consumers] about everything they love about the brand while addressing some of the misperceptions."[that Lay's are overprocessed and unhealthy].”

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Reader Comments

Kimberly Chapman

February 11, 2009 04:40 PM

Seems to me that this ad says, "Hey there, conform and be as fake as everyone else."

Tim Dove

February 13, 2009 08:26 PM

Forced Recycled Creative = indulagency.

Teoh Yi Chie

February 16, 2009 05:41 AM

It's an ad out to grab people's attention by showing the unexpected. There's really no story, in my opinion.

Kellie Schroeder

February 17, 2009 07:11 PM

How about calling it an irrelevad?

Or...maybe..stupid.

Sam

February 18, 2009 05:54 AM

this campaign is part of the new communication direction that has been executed all over the world for Lay's and that plays on the happiness that Lay's brings to a setting and people in general(because of its functional attributes including irresistible taste, although not well portrayed here).

the product link seems missing, but I guess this is their second execution where they wanted to play less on the product attributes (the first one was happening in a farm with potatoes popping out like fireworks and it was built on the three attributes mentioned in adage)

the big idea of the copy ( that you can also find in other big brands like Coke or Cadbury) regardless of the story and execution is to convey the happy and uplifted mood that a brand like Lay's can bring.

In that sense, the music, the elements (inflatables) and the overall mood & feel are delivering that.

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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