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Doritos’ “Lady Crisps” – Shameless Stunt or Simple Snaccident?

5th February 2018

Admittedly, there’s never a good time to launch a ludicrous gendered product, but there’s a special dunce cap reserved somewhere for the company that does it in the wake of the #metoo movement.

With awareness of sexual inequality currently at an all-time high, Doritos’ revelation today that it may soon be revealing “lady-friendly crisps” has unsurprisingly left a sour taste in many mouths.

The bosses at PepsiCo – which owns Doritos – claim that unlike men, women do not like to crunch loudly or lick their fingers when eating tortilla chips in public, so the new ones are set to be quieter and less messy to eat. Not only this, but the packet is also being made smaller so it can now fit snugly into a handbag – a major issue for female crisp fans the world over…

Appearing on a Freakonomics Radio podcast, Indra Nooyi, Global Chief Executive of PepsiCo, said: “… you watch a lot of the young guys eat the chips, they love their Doritos, and they lick their fingers with great glee, and when they reach the bottom of the bag they pour the little broken pieces into their mouth…

“Women would love to do the same, but they don’t. They don’t like to crunch too loudly in public. And they don’t lick their fingers generously… For women, [it’s about] low-crunch, the full taste profile, not having so much of the flavour on the fingers and how can you put it in a purse. Because women love to carry a snack in their purse.”

Given that it sounds like something pulled straight from The Onion, the story is currently blowing up on Twitter, with some wondering whether it is in fact a premature April Fool. Many are accusing the brand of blatant sexism, with one spokesman for the Women’s Equality Party criticising these “tired gender stereotypes”, commenting “no doubt some male consumers will welcome the chance to have a bigger package.” Ouch.

With just one day to go until the 100th anniversary of women being granted the vote, it begs the question of whether this is a badly-timed CEO slip up or a carefully crafted publicity stunt. The former would be preferable, though it would mean that those at the top of the PepsiCo tower have little to no grasp of their target market, or indeed current affairs. The latter should never have even left an initial brainstorming meeting.

There are plenty of nightmare examples the company could (and should) have looked at to understand that designing a product to help women and their confusing, delicate lady hands is a very bad idea indeed – Bic’s comfortable pink pens and Aurosa’s beer “for her” were both met with equally widespread ridicule.

But for now, all that’s left to do is sit back, polish off the biggest and crunchiest bag of crisps you can find (finger licking is mandatory) and await Doritos’ reaction to the backlash.