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Doritos’ two-pronged mobile campaign drives product sales, voter registrations

One of PepsiCo’s flagship brands, Doritos, has teamed up with nonprofit organization Rock the Vote for a new campaign that encourages millennials to purchase a flavorless bag of chips through a mobile-optimized site in a bid to convince friends to vote in the upcoming election.

The initiative, called the Boldest Choice campaign, combines components of mobile video and social media sharing to target young and first-time voters, 62 percent of whom did not vote in 2012. The campaign also involves the introduction of a limited-time-only new product— a tongue-in-cheek nod to the campaign’s ethos— which is available for consumers to order.

“Brands can make a huge impact when encouraging millennials to vote,” said Shuli Lowy, director of customer success, Americas at TVTY, New York. “While millennials are known for being vocal when it comes to social and political conversations, it is surprising to see the declining percentage of millennials that show up to the polls.

“At times it can feel like a struggle for brands to join in on the election discussion whilst remaining apolitical,” she said. “Encouraging people to vote can serve as a strategic, neutral way to participate in this momentous activity without any concern of alienating consumers who may have an allegiance to certain candidate.

“That’s why we are seeing Doritos— as well as other brands such as Ben & Jerry’s, USA Today, Patagonia and Virgin America— run campaigns centered around encouraging people to vote.”

Eccentric yet eye-catching
The pillar of the Boldest Choice campaign is the new limited-edition Doritos bag aimed at those not yet registered to vote. The grey bags contain flavorless triangles with no crunch in lieu of the Doritos promised on the outside package.

The substitution is to illustrate Doritos’ declaration that the decision to make no choice in regards to the election is tantamount to not getting a choice at all. Customers can spread the message starting today, National Voter Registration Day, by going on the campaign’s mobile-optimized Web site and purchasing a bag of limited-edition Doritos for someone who has not yet registered to vote.

Another element of the campaign involves the creation of a mobile-optimized video to articulate the spirit of the campaign. In it, college students attempt to obtain a bag of Doritos from a special vending machine, only to receive the flavorless Doritos if they responded on an interactive screen that they had not yet registered to vote.

The video then assisted students in beginning the voter registration process via the interactive screen.

Nontraditional approach to transaction
With the reach of the mobile platform growing so rapidly, Doritos’ Boldest Choice campaign represents a natural desire by the brand to leverage a relatively underpopulated area within it. Voter registration initiatives generally rely on more meat and potatoes approaches angled towards television public service announcements and school outreach.

With Boldest Choice, Doritos has made a move towards shifting yet another facet of traditional advertising and marketing to the mobile space while also driving purchases of the new limited-edition bags.

By positioning its brand in the middle of a nonpartisan effort, Doritos enters itself into a no-loss situation while simultaneously opening up a new revenue stream and generating interest around its already-existing products.

Tweaking with the design and appearance of packaging has been a mainstay of the Frito-Lay playbook. Last year, the PepsiCo division allowed customers to create their own custom digital bags of Lay’s chips, some of which the company actually produced (see story).

And Doritos is not the only brand looking to stake some nonpartisan space within the election coverage. USA Today recently debuted a new voting initiative called Voting Because, which allows individuals to post their reasons for voting on social media using a branded hashtag (see story).

“In addition to the key takeaway, the campaign provides an element of surprise that sparks a meaningful thought-starter,” Ms. Lowy said. “A creative idea combined with the fusion of the physical and digital experience is sure to make this a powerful campaign for both Doritos and Rock the Vote.”