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In China, Nostalgia Anchors Lay's Pepsi Chicken Flavored Chips

Posted by Abe Sauer on August 23, 2012 11:11 AM

With a new Wuhan plant capable of delivering 15,000 more tons of Lay's potato chips a year, it's no secret PepsiCo is hanging a lot of its hopes on China. With a market that currently only consumes about a fifteenth as many chips as the US, PepsiCo sees room to grow the Lay's brand.

Meanwhile, it's Pepsi beverage is facing a bit more of a struggle, in part because of stiffer competition from market leader Coca-Cola. So what's a global conglomerate brand umbrella to do? Make Pepsi-flavored Lay's of course. But now Lay's and Pepsi have found a unique way to endear the partnership to China's consumers.

"Lay's Cola Chicken Flavor Chips" (乐事可乐鸡味薯片) is just one in a long line of localized chip flavors. In China, Lay's has taken the successful strategy of localization, fine-tuning product to the tastes of China's consumers. Lay's China selection now includes flavors as varied as cucumber, hot and sour fish soup, numb and spicy hot pot and blueberry. Yes, blueberry.

So far, the reception has been mixed. Weibo user 白玉糖包子 called the flavor "Too hard to eat" (太难吃了) while user MathildeTT wrote, "Couldn't imagine Lay's Pepsi chicken flavor would taste this good. The 'Pepsi' flavor is not heavy, a little heavier and it would be taste better" (乐事“百事可乐鸡翅”味的薯片没有想象的好吃。“百事可乐”的味道不重,再重点就好吃了). And then there was Tina_niuniu who, alongside a crying face symbol stated "Looked everywhere for these but couldn't find any to buy" (找了好多家都没有买到).

The online conversation of Pepsi and Lay's is a mutually reinforcing brand conversation PepsiCo was probably hoping for. But when it comes to Pepsi Lay's, Weibo was abuzz about a different chip detail.

As Weibo user 愤怒会计 wrote, "The Pepsi chicken flavored Lay's chips ad kills two birds with one stone" (百事可乐鸡味乐事薯片广告一箭双雕啊). What the user meant is that the commercial PepsiCo used to advertise the flavor plays on another well-known, decade-old Pepsi China commercial starring superstar Aaron Kwok. Both the new and old commercials below:

It's a genius capitalization on nostalgia by Pepsi. It also says a lot about the maturity of China's marketplace that advertising nostalgia in China is a resource now ready for brands to exploit.

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