Friday, July 2, 2010

Don't Worry: Multigrain Pringles Are Available in Ranch Flavor

Posted By on Fri, Jul 2, 2010 at 10:09 AM

click to enlarge pringles070210.JPG
You know what's easier than snacking healthily? Thinking you're snacking healthily and letting the, uh, chips fall where they may.

At least, that's Gut Check's takeaway from an article in today's New York Times detailing the marketing push behind new Pringles Multigrain Crisps.
In devising the marketing campaign for multigrain Pringles, Brett Banker, account director at Grey Worldwide, part of WPP, said that "there is a general perception that multigrain is bland and does not taste good.

"So we tried to leave behind the idea of boring and serious, and go with delicious and playful," he said of the television commercial, which has young people gathering in a farmer's field to create a crop circle, a design seen from the air.
(View the commercial, which includes the tagline "Now Multigrain Pops.")

The article is an interesting look at how a food company markets a new product, especially one that might be perceived as bland. However, the author might have buried the lede.

This is the eleventh paragraph of the article:
[Douwe Bergsma, the North America marketing director for Pringles] said that the multigrain Pringles campaign was devised to appeal to people 35 and older, a group that tends to be more aware of calories and sodium content and that also looks to keep the pounds off with whole grains. (Even so, multigrain Pringles, which are made from rice, corn, wheat and black beans in addition to dehydrated potatoes, have about the same amount of sodium and calories as regular Pringles.)
Make that the eleventh paragraph and a parenthetical. So let me restate it for emphasis: These multigrain Pringles, designed for the calorie- and sodium- conscious, has about the same amount of each as ordinary Pringles.

Yeah, this is about marketing all right. Really, can you blame Proctor & Gamble, the maker of Pringles, for taking advantage of consumers' shallow understanding of ingredients and nutrition? Sure, it's cynical, but if consumers believe that multigrain necessarily equals healthier, then it's good business to give them what they think they want.

Of course, the most amusing aspect of this article is how Pringles is hedging its bets about what consumers really want from a snack: Besides the "Truly Original" multigrain flavor, these crisps are also available as "Cheesy Cheddar" (as opposed to uncheesy cheddar?) and, yes, because this is America, "Creamy Ranch." 

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