PepsiCo Under Fire After Provocative Lady Doritos Campaign

Do women really eat Doritos differently?

Sean Locke PhotographyShutterstock

Another controversial ad campaign has been launched, and this time it came from PepsiCo’s CEO, who’s the main proponent of the new Lady Doritos.

In an interview with Freakonomics Radio, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi talked about the “gap in the market” that they are looking to fill. Nooyi’s reductive interpretation of the call for equality was summed up in how men and women eat their own snacks.

Nooyi said that they have observed that men eat Doritos as they gleefully lick their fingers for the remaining cheese debris and scoop out the remains of the bags as they finish off. On the other hand, as Nooyi claims, women don’t. Therefore, Doritos’ solution is to create a snack specifically made for how women consume their chips.

“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 mouths.”

Nooyi’s focus on women became too repressive that instead of using the message of women empowerment to create a different message, he used “crunch” as the biggest “problem” they want to solve as a company, The Guardian notes.

PepsiCo has received a lot of backlash after the interview with most people noting Nooyi’s backward thinking on women.

Tracey Follows, a marketing strategy expert and founder of the consultancy Future Made, said that women-focused marketing is only effective if you focus on the “substance.” In Nooyi’s case, instead of being a proponent for women, he highlighted women as a “problem” that he wants to provide a solution to. Follows also added that there’s no reason why the new product has to be gender-specific when there’s a big market for literally everyone who eats chips.

A spokesman from the Women’s Equality Party also commented on Nooyi’s views and campaign for the new Lady Doritos product, New York Post reports. The spokesman said companies have a big responsibility to create or disrupt gender stereotypes and Nooyi should be aware of this, considering that women are the decision maker in spending habits all over the world.

Follows said that if Nooyi wants to create a more effective campaign, there has to be more understanding of the current consumers today. She recalls a Yorkie campaign that says “not for girls,” which effectively boosted sales nearly 30 percent.

In Nooyi’s Lady Doritos, it will have the opposite effect.

“It’s just: ‘Let’s do something for women – we might expand our market a bit.’ There’s no real understanding; it’s just that women don’t like to drink their crisps.”