Tostitos Campaign Scores A Touchdown (But Not A 2-Point Conversion?)

Mashable called it a “stunt.” Adweek said it was a “neat party gimmick.” And the Washington Post deemed it a “nifty innovation.” I’m talking about the new Tostitos chip bag that can detect alcohol on a person’s breath when you blow into it, announced to much fanfare last week. Tostitos is also offering 25,000 $10 discounts off Uber rides on Super Bowl Sunday, helping to ensure that football fans get home safely after celebrating the big game. More details are available here

While I agree with all the media’s comments about it, I think they are taking a somewhat too cavalier attitude about the product. This is big news. It will literally save lives. When was the last time a consumer product company created a campaign that did that?!

Here’s what I like about it:

  • While many reporters complained that the bag only detects the presence of alcohol, not how much, I say, “So what?” It’s still an excellent reminder to people that they’ve been drinking and maybe they shouldn’t drive.
  • The Uber discount is a great incentive to keep people safe on the road by helping drunk or buzzed drivers to stay off the road.



These two elements alone make this a remarkable campaign, but Tostitos didn’t stop there. They also layered their program with highly credible partners, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker, whose aunt and uncle were killed by a drunk driver following the 2013 Super Bowl in which he played for the San Francisco 49ers. Walker is featured in a video spot available online.

Here’s what I was less thrilled about:

It looks like all they did was distribute a press release and a sample of the product—which was enough to bring plenty of attention to the “gimmick” but didn’t help elevate the campaign to a higher level. I would liked to have seen them add a press event with Delanie Walker and a spokesperson from MADD, which would have given weight and heft to the product. Also, why not provide more statistics about drinking and driving? That way, the media could have written a more in-depth piece on the issue and Tostitos’ contribution, rather than simply reviewing the “stunt.”

So why do I think the product is so important? I think that if blowing into a Tostitos bag—even in jest!—keeps just one or two people from getting in their cars and driving when they are inebriated, then it’s done its job. Drinking and driving in America is a serious problem. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, more than 10,000 people died from drunk-driving accidents in the United States in 2015, and another 290,000 were injured. So yes, I think it’s fantastic that a company like Frito-Lay, which manufactures the Tostitos chips, is doing something to counteract the problem.

Of course, this is all just my personal opinion! Maybe Frito-Lay is happy with the coverage they got and would rather not take themselves too seriously. After all, they make chips and dips, which are all about fun and parties. To each his own. I just believe in “blowing” your own horn whenever possible!

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