Frito Lay vs. Frito Lay: How One Unit Fought for Its Noisy SunChips Bag

Last Updated Nov 1, 2010 6:42 PM EDT

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Frito Lay Canada won't kill off the compostable SunChips bag despite complaints from consumers that it's too noisy. Instead, the company turned all the chatter over its loud-as-thunder bags into an opportunity to sell more of the eco-product. Huh. Guess Frito Lay North America, the Dallas-based company that apologized for the noisiness of the bag before pulling it from store shelves last month, didn't think of that option.

Maybe Frito Lay Canada believes its customers are more amiable than the average American or perhaps, they don't believe in the consumer's right to snack silently. Whatever it is, Frito Lay Canada has turned the SunChips bag brouhaha into a marketable moment with a part-awareness, part-education campaign that includes a public service announcement and a new Facebook page. As the company said in a recent release:

Our bag is loud, our bag is different, our bag is good for the environment and our bag will remain on store shelves.
The best part? Frito Lay Canada has issued a challenge to consumers: Buy the noisy bag, test it out and answer this question, "Is it really that unbearable when you consider the environmental benefits? If at the end of the testing, the consumer still feels the bag is too loud, the SunChips brand will send them a pair of earplugs.

Frito Lay Canada's effort could backfire. Although I suspect it will be successful because its fans and the eco-conscious out there will and are (see Facebook page) are doing a lot of the heavy lifting for Frito Lay and pushing the product. Launching a green product, especially an eco-version of a brand consumers already know, is difficult. The campaign could fail to get folks amped up about the "challenge" or they could buy a bag and decide, 'Yup, this bag really is too noisy for me.' It will be up to Frito Lay Canada to keep pushing its noisy product in an unapologetic way that is humorous and unpretentious if it hopes to win over consumers.

At least the Canadian company didn't run for the hills at the first sign of trouble. The company also has wisely decided to fight for a product that took four years to develop. Unfortunately, Frito Lay Canada's choice to breathe new life into the plant-based bag only highlights the cowardice of its American counterpart.


Photo from Flickr user cogdogblog, CC 2.0
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