Admittedly, I was quite excited to see my upcoming book The Social Customer Journey highlighted on TV all over LA (CBS LA) as I was introduced for an interview on “Lady Doritos.” I thank Chapman University's PR maestro Sheri Ledbetter for reminding me that I should not forget to mention that I have a book in the making (pre-order here :)).
The story by Stacey Butler of CBS LA was about a statement that PepsiCo's CEO Indra Nooyi made on a podcast. During this interview, she speculated about targeting women with a special kind of Doritos. She suggested that women don't like the crunchy noise you make while eating traditional chips and also that they also are less likely than men to lick the resulting mess off their fingers when the bag of chips is consumed. The full 2-minute news segment can be seen here or by clicking the book image.
The Statement on Doritos for Women by PepsiCo CEO
Here is a direct quote by PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi on the Freakonomics podcast with Stephen Dubner:
“When you eat out of a flex bag — one of our single-serve bags — especially as you watch a lot of the young guys eat the chips, they love their Doritos, and they lick their fingers with great glee, and when they reach the bottom of the bag they pour the little broken pieces into their mouth, because they don’t want to lose that taste of the flavor, and the broken chips in the bottom. Women would love to do the same, but they don’t. They don’t like to crunch too loudly in public. And they don’t lick their fingers generously and they don’t like to pour the little broken pieces and the flavor into their mouth.”
Social Media Rejects Lady-Friendly Doritos
The idea of Doritos offering a special “Lady Doritos” version did not go over very well on social media. At all. Perhaps the social media backlash can be explained with the timing of this statement as it came out in the midst of all the focus on the #metoo movement. Even the slightest hint that you are not respecting women could be upsetting enough for reactions to occur even if they had not even advertised a new product in the making. Here are some sample tweets reacting to the news:
Yes, because all of my personal development work has been around being quieter and less messy. Ugh. (Dear #Doritos …possible fail…) All I can say is, they better package them in a smaller pink bag, and charge at least 15% more.#LadyChips ???https://t.co/Sd1m1m4EIN
— Deanna Burgart (@DeannaBurgart) February 5, 2018
Doritos Bites Back
After the social media backlash, PepsiCo issued a statement that the reports of a “Lady Burrito” was inaccurate and dismissed the whole incident with a marketing pitch :
“We already have Doritos for women–they're called Doritos, and they're enjoyed by millions of people every day. At the same time, we know needs and preferences continue to evolve and we're always looking for new ways to engage and delight our consumers.”
While it is true that reactions on social media often are based on unfounded rumors, in this case, it is worth to point out that the “rumors” stemmed from a direct quote by their CEO. Therefore, I think it is too easy to simply dismiss all the reactions on social media as misdirected or unwarranted.
Podcasting and the Lady Doritos Story
One thing that strikes me with this story is that perhaps this is another coming-of-age moment for the podcast medium. While more and more people listen to podcasts, it is possible that celebrities and executives being interviewed on a podcast are not yet fully recognizing that everything they say on this medium can be used against them and sometimes quoted out of context. At the same time, I am hoping that a greater awareness of the power of podcasting will not mean that the great conversations that I personally enjoy listening to on various podcasts will not become overly formal and cautious. Podcasting as a medium allows for longer and more nuanced discussions than short sound bites in other places and that in fact is why I am working on the launch of my own podcast, will you listen in?