By now you’ve surely heard the chatter surrounding Doritos’ “Lady Chips,” which was all over the news earlier this week after an interview the CEO of PepsiCo (which owns Frito-Lay, the manufacturer of Doritos), Indra Nooyi, gave to the Freakonomics podcast. In it, she said that the brand is getting ready to launch snacks that will be marketed toward women, taking into account such factors as “low-crunch, the full taste profile, not have so much of the flavor stick on the fingers, and how can you put it in a purse? Because women love to carry a snack in their purse.”
Following Nooyi’s remarks, British tabloid The Sun published their own interpretation of the interview. That story spread far and wide. By Monday, nearly 500 Facebook posts by media outlets mentioned the Lady Chips. So, even if people hadn’t heard the original Freakonomics interview, in all likelihood they read about it in their Facebook feeds on Monday morning.
Now, we’re not here today to debate the idea of Lady Chips (as this tweet perfectly sums up, lady-specific anything is probably a bad idea right now). What’s really troubling from a PR perspective is the lack of clarity in Nooyi’s message, and the fallout from being so unclear. The CEO of a global brand shouldn’t be in a position where they have to backpedal on their comments. Preventing this from happening comes in two forms: 1) proper media training, message point development, and a thorough analysis of what your interviewer might ask; and 2) asking the interviewer if you can clarify your point if it comes out sounding unclear. When we media train our clients, we advise them to clarify a point with the journalist if it wasn’t worded clearly in the initial response.
While I don’t think any real, long-term damage is likely to result from Lady Chips-gate (other than the collective giggle and eye-roll of the entire country), it goes to show that even the big brands aren’t immune to media interview missteps.