Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tough Times, Stupid Offers

I hate to admit it, but I'm old enough to have been on the front lines at Tracy-Locke in the early '80's, which gave me a great opportunity to witness what was then the dumbest marketing idea I'd ever heard of, the introduction of More Nacho Cheese Flavored Doritos, from Frito-Lay. I was an account executive, fortunately working on the smaller F-L brands of the day, Tostitos and Sabritos, so was able to watch the debacle unfold without taking any direct hit personally. The thing was, Doritos ALREADY HAD a Nacho Cheese Flavored product. Somehow, the client became convinced that having more Nacho Cheese Flavor was not only enough news to talk about, but was compelling enough to relaunch the product. They directed the agency (never known for it's creative chops, as it was) to concoct a series of TV spots around the news, which resulted in the most expensive production the company had ever funded. VERY expensive drivel. The CD at the time was euphoric that he'd sold a spot that was going to to cost over a million bucks to produce, which was unheard of at the time. We watched from the sidelines as our account brethren went through the process, which ultimately ended up with the campaign being pulled after a few short weeks from lack of results (duhr...) and the agency getting a black eye. Why talk about all of this now? Because I just heard a radio spot from Frito-Lay which essentially said that because of the tough times we're all going through, they've decided to help out and give us more product in every bag for NO EXTRA CHARGE?! WTF?! You mean the product will no longer feel half empty when purchased? We were always told that the emptiness was to keep the product from getting crumbled...was that a lie? Feels like deju vu to me.


PJ said...

I'm in Dallas and heard the Frito-Lay "more chips" spot while running errands at lunch. Thought I made it up. I, too, spent my "youth" in ad agencies, so I know the approval process for a big campaign for a client such as Frito-Lay. UNBELIEVEABLE!!!

Take care,

PJ Spur

john sharpe said...

Thanks for your comment, PJ. Sorry it took so long for me to respond...just figured out that I needed to change my setting to get notified when I get comments...duhr!
Unfortunately, claims like this are easy to come by in the biz, which makes me think that maybe I could have been a CMO contender if I had stayed on the agency/client side of the business... Here's another one...another food client, another Pepsico brand - remember a year or so ago when KFC was trying to position itself as a "healthy" choice?? OMG - I almost wrote a letter to the company!! Cheers and thanks for reading, js