Bag of Chips

20 February 2007

marketing snack writing

erik_estrada.jpg Last night I was standing in my kitchen eating some chips straight from the bag while waiting for my wife to finish making her snack. Of course, I turn the bag around and read the backside. We do this with cereal boxes, too.

Sure, we discard the plastic tube the microwave burrito comes in before we consume it. We don't take the package of cold hot-dogs to the table to read while eating our freshly cooked wiener. But chips and cereal are routinely consumed near the original packaging.

What kind of reading material do they give us?

Well, on SunChips, they give me information that inspires me to feel good about my purchase. Wow, 30% less fat than normal chips. But wait, I've already bought the chips. I already feel good about my purchase. Now I'm just bored, and you wasted all that space convincing me to buy something I already bought. Thanks.

Cereal, on the other hand, normally includes "fun facts" or a maze or a puzzle or some other content that actually is worthwhile. Yes, I'm 33. But I still eat cereal and enjoy a good word jumble from time-to-time.

Some chips almost get it right. Any kettle chip tends to include some history about the chip company, but unfortunately, it's always in the form of an idyll Faulkner-esque story that begins with

At ChipCorp, we love chips! That's why we hand-craft ours in small batches from only the finest russet potatoes. Our spuds are hand-picked by specially-trained left-handed New Foundlanders we've imported who understand how great chips start with great potatoes. And Newfies know potatoes!

It's always the same.

Cereal boxes get it right. Chip bags gets it wrong.

But what is it?

It is simply realizing who will be examining which portions of your package throughout its life-cycle. No one looks at the backside of a bag of chips before they make their purchase. Same with cereal. Unless you're 9, and you're trying to figure out what toy comes in the box.

The same applies to everything.

You have a website? Am I downloading something? Why not give me something interesting to read while the download occurs? Not more marketing fluff, as I've already committed to the download. You've sold me already. This is your chance to entertain me. Or to inspire me. Don't bore me, and don't sell me.

A mechanic down the street has a typical marquee with movable letters. But really, what kind of useful changing sign does a mechanic need? Pretty much anything he were to write on the sign would apply to only a small percentage of the people who look at it. Special on brake jobs this week? My brakes are fine, I'll ignore that sign for a while now.

Instead he simply changes out a joke every few weeks. Never a very good joke, but everyone who rides down the street knows the current joke, will comment upon previous jokes, and generally knows about the mechanic.

For example, this week's joke, from memory, is

I hate drinking Coke while ironing. It's soda pressing.

Nope, not good at all. But I remember it. I remember where I've seen it. And it actually provides a modicum of entertainment while sitting at the stop light, and later discussing with the wife while we have a snack, standing in the kitchen.

What are you putting on the back of the bag of chips your company sells?