Some interesting things are happening in the potato chip market these days, from clutter-breaking publicity campaigns to norm-shaking new entrants.
PepsiCo’s brand Lays has been urging Pakistanis to pass each other a much-needed smile, and the initiative has received a fair bit of attention – according to the counter on the Social Wall of layspassasmile.pk almost 15,000 selfies’ worth of attention (at the time of writing).
Pass a Smile is an adaptation of a campaign done in Egypt two years ago. Explaining why it was brought to Pakistan, Masud Anwar, Brand Manager, Lays, says:
“We face lots of problems – load shedding, security... We are becoming a very pessimistic nation. Lays wanted people to focus on the little joys of life and pass on smiles to each other so that we can become a more optimistic and progressive nation.”
The main campaign consists of smiles printed on packs of Lays (Rs 50 and 100 SKUs) and Wavys (Rs 25 and 50 SKUs). People are encouraged to hold the pack up so the exaggerated smile covers the lower half of their faces and then take a selfie.
“That is why the smiles are only on the larger sizes,” says Anwar. “The bigger the pack, the better the pic.”
Anwar believes people in Pakistan have not encountered such disruptive packaging before and the novelty has been translated into BTL activities, such as the vending machines put up at upscale malls where a whole potato is inserted in the slot and can be viewed through clear panels as it is processed – peeled, sliced, fried – before exiting as a bag of Lays chips.
Another innovative component was a print ad in the Sunday papers consisting of an attachment that flipped open to reveal Lays’ slogan.
“At the end of the weekend a lot of people begin stressing about Monday,” says Anwar, “so the message was, ‘Pass a smile to those who fear Mondays.’”
A music video starring singer Farhan Saeed and actress Urwa Hocane has also been released.
Two promotions are supporting the campaign. One requires texting a code printed on the back of each smile-adorned pack for a chance to win Rs 100,000 every day. So far, 23 people have won the cash prize. The promotion will end with the grand prize of an Audi car. The second promotion, 50 Days of Summer Smiles, gives away one iPod Nano every day for 50 days.
According to Anwar, the effort has produced positive results.
“This has been one of PepsiCo’s most successful campaigns in Pakistan. In June we had double digit growth of around 20% and in July we had the same. There have been various attempts to meme-fy our TVC. Bloggers, celebrities, socialites are joining in.”
As the market leader – “with annual sales of 26,000 tons and 86% share of the total Pakistan potato chip market, we are almost the entire category,” says Anwar – strives to cheer consumers up, a new brand has jumped in and with its line-up of six flavours consumers are being spoiled for choice.
Launched in February this year, Oye Hoye is a product of United Snacks (sister company of United Industries, makers of Kashmir Banaspati). The brand was launched after a full year of intensive research on name, flavour profiles and package design to safeguard against any eventualities.
Mian Shahzad Khalid, Director Marketing, United Snacks, says:
“Everything was pre-tested. Focus groups, in-depth studies, one-to-one feedback – we didn’t work on gut feeling. All decisions were based on our research of what people liked, not what we felt good about.”
On selecting a relatively unconventional name for a snack, Khalid explains, “I told my team to go home, spend time with their families, and see how many times we Pakistanis use the phrase oye hoye. The name is very insight-driven; it is Pakistani to the core. We use this phrase all the time and so it readily jumps up on the tongue.”
For package design, the team again went the avant-garde route after rigorous testing. As Khalid points out, the matte material and the intense colours are not standard snack-wrapping fare in Pakistan.
Neither is a brand mascot such as Oochi. In his red tracksuit, glasses, curly hair, sitting in his living room with friends who are just a shade younger than him, Oochi is “a character that has to stand out from the others.”
“He is ownable property,” says Khalid, “a character that can be developed for further use. There is a lot of potential in him; he is not limited to ads.” For the near future, Khalid says, “we have integrated him – very subtly – in songs in forthcoming films.”
Explaining the choice of casting Fawad Khan as Oochi, Khalid says:
“I told Fawad ‘I want you in the ad, but I don’t want ‘Fawad Khan’. And he was up for it. During the shoot people said, ‘What are you doing? You have taken a BMW and stuck a tilak on it?’ When the campaign launched people said they couldn’t recognise Khan. ‘Why would you pay someone so much and end up with not him?’ But that was the beauty of it. People were stunned to find out Oochi was Fawad Khan. It was clutter-breaking.”
The brand team’s well-researched nonconformity is reflecting positively on sales. According to Anwar, the chips are selling so fast that “our factory is working at full capacity, 24 hours a day and we are looking into expansion.”
As for sales figures and market share, the brand has only just starting collecting data, but Khalid is confident of Oye Hoye’s impact.
“As a new entrant we are nowhere near Lays which has been in the market for years, but I can tell you that after Lays, we are the second biggest producer of potato chips in Pakistan.”