Food & Beverage

Ruffles, Own Your Ridges

The Challenge

During the concept development stage, Frito Lay tested the breakthrough potential of the Ruffles “Own Your Ridges” campaign featuring NBA star LeBron James.

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The Objective

Using a qualitative exploratory research design, Frito Lay partnered with Insights in Marketing to gain actionable consumer insights about the overall reach, resonation, and reaction to four different advertising concepts.

Our Tools
Qualitative Research

Our Customized Approach

To learn what drives Ruffles target consumers, Insights in Marketing moderated in-person focus groups with diverse groups of chip category consumers and loyal Ruffles customers.

The consumers evaluated four different storylines and soundtracks. Storyboards and video vignettes featuring LeBron James were paired with soundtracks by different musicians, and various groupings of unique individuals, celebrities, social media influencers, and performance artists.

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Key Insights

The Ruffles brand marketing team relied upon the expertise of an integrated team of sports marketing and consumer insights professionals to develop the “Own Your Ridges” brand strategy.

Consumer observation and an analysis of exploratory qualitative research, revealed key insights to develop a breakthrough, affirmational advertisement. In the conceptual stage, the memorable metaphor, compelling stories, edgy visuals, and music left a lasting impression on consumers, and three key takeaways were:

1) Reach: Consumers love seeing LeBron James off the court, as a father, which caught attention long enough to give a spot breakthrough potential, and the real power of this campaign lies in the message to ‘own your ridges.’

2) Resonation: Less is more with these spots, and the tone of the campaign is critical to its success. Consumers want to be entertained, and dislike preachy or political messages.

3) Response: The idea behind ‘own your own ridges’ elevates the brand, and creates a clear connection between people who own their ridges and the Ruffles brand being a unique chip with ridges.

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The Results

The Ruffles affirmational brand strategy resulted in a multi-year contract with LeBron James, and the campaign debuted with a breakthrough commercial during the National Basketball Association’s 75th season of Christmas Day games in 2021.

The initial campaign commercial reflects the insights consumers shared during focus groups, and opens with a powerful LeBron James message set to a Kendrick Lamar anthem, and features real people, with real ridges: a blind skateboarder, a female barber, a former convict turned food truck entrepreneur, and a single dad.

Leaning into his own experience growing up in a single-parent household, James was joined in the Ruffles D.N.A. commercial by four other individuals who owned their ridges and found success on the other side of life’s obstacles to inspire others to do the same.

To further empower people to own their ridges, Ruffles and the PepsiCo Foundation are partnering with The LeBron James Family Foundation to support their work to uplift communities through education, job training, food security and other essential programs.

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Work like this only happens when you have a team that challenges and inspires each other with unwavering trust. I could not be prouder of this team and what we have accomplished. Everyone went above and beyond daily.

- Courtney Larson, on LinkedIn Head of Ruffles Brand Marketing Frito Lay @ PepsiCo