Ruffles celebrates individuality on social media and in return to TV ads

Dive Brief:

  • PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay unit is launching the first TV campaign for its Ruffles brand of ridged potato chips in almost a decade, while extending its marketing partnerships with star basketball players. The “Own Your Ridges” campaign includes two commercials starring Anthony Davis, the Los Angeles Lakers all-star who began his partnership with Ruffles last year, per an announcement.
  • Davis appears in the two commercials offering a comic take on questions like, “What would Ruffles be like without their ridges?” to showcase what makes the potato chips distinct. The first commercial will air during the NBA All-Star Game on TNT on March 7, and the second will run during the Grammy Awards on CBS on March 14. Ruffles also announced a partnership with Boston Celtics all-star Jayson Tatum on the release of Ruffles Flamin’ Hot BBQ, a flavor inspired by the spicy cuisine in his hometown of St. Louis.
  • To expand the campaign beyond TV, Ruffles launched a “Ridge Awards” campaign on social media that asks people to “recognize the people in their lives who have a lot of flavor.” Ruffles on March 14 will release a custom augmented reality (AR) filter on Instagram the lets its followers hold up a virtual “Ridge Award,” per the announcement.

Dive Insight:

The first national TV campaign in almost a decade for Ruffles potato chips and the introduction of a new flavor aim to lift the profile of the brand among younger consumers. The partnership with Jayson Tatum expands on its strategy of working with star athletes to appeal to sports fans, and indicates that its ongoing collaboration with Anthony Davis has been positive for Ruffles. As the NBA season enters the final stretch before the playoffs start on May 18, Ruffles could see a lift in brand recognition among basketball fans.

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The campaign for Ruffles also is another sign of the greater marketing muscle that Frito-Lay is putting into its brands. Snack foods have seen stronger sales growth in the past year as homebound consumers do more of their own cooking during the pandemic. To help maintain that sales momentum, Frito-Lay has ramped up its marketing efforts with higher-profile campaigns.

During the Super Bowl this month, Frito-Lay for the first time ran three commercials, including spots for Doritos, Cheetos and its portfolio of snack brands. A month earlier, Frito-Lay brought back a cone-shaped version of Doritos that had been discontinued in the mid-2000s, as consumers sought familiar brands and comfort foods from the pre-pandemic era.

Amid rising demand for snack foods, Frito-Lay has helped parent company PepsiCo to drive higher sales and earnings. The company’s profit rose 4.5% from a year earlier to $1.85 billion in Q4, as revenue climbed 8.8% to $22.46 billion. Frito-Lay North America saw 5% growth in organic sales, though its operating profit slipped amid a rise in operating costs and restructuring charges. PepsiCo cut spending on advertising and marketing for beverages and Quaker Foods in North America, helping to boost operating profits as much as 19% for those divisions, per its quarterly report.

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