Article: by Stuart Elliott, New york times
Someone once described the concept of trying to have it both ways as like brushing your teeth while eating a candy bar. Substitute “snack chip” for the treat in that sentence and you’ve a good idea of the strategy behind a campaign for a new entry into a growing category that could be called junkless junk food.
Popchips Inc. is introducing its seven-flavor product line with a campaign intended to convey in charming, low-key fashion what are described as its multiple benefits compared with conventional potato chips.
Popchips Inc., the maker of Popchips, is introducing its seven-flavor product line with a campaign intended to convey in charming, low-key fashion what are described as its multiple benefits compared with conventional potato chips. The campaign, by Pereira & O’Dell in San Francisco, presents Popchips — which, as its name suggests, is made with potatoes that are popped rather than fried or baked — as all-natural, much lower in fat and free of evils like cholesterol, trans fat, artificial colors, artificial flavors and preservatives.
Ads in the campaign carry whimsical headlines like “Love. Without the handles,” “Regret. Nothing,” “Tastes like it should be bad for you,” “Sandwich. Meet your new B.F.F.” (as in “Best Friend Forever”), “Snack. Smile. Repeat” and “Snack like nobody’s watching.”
The theme of the campaign, with a budget estimated at $1.3 million, is “Think popped! Never fried. Never baked.”
(You were expecting maybe “Once you pop you just can’t stop”? Sorry, Pringles got there first.)
The campaign includes extensive outdoor advertising; a Web site along with presences on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube; an e-mail newsletter; ads on the video screens in taxi cabs; a sampling program with its own “mobile snack tour,” with a goal of giving away 500,000 bags of Popchips; public relations by Formula PR in New York; and an outreach to trend-setters that seeks to generate positive buzz.
Popchips Inc. joins a lengthening list of marketers that are making like Sister Sarah in “Guys and Dolls” and starting a crusade to reform sinners. Not Broadway gamblers, in this instance, but American snackers who insist on eating fried chips (among other dietary lapses) and may, after visiting their doctors, need to break into a chorus or two of “Luck Be a Lady Tonight.”
Other brands in the ranks of junkless junk food include Alexia crunchy snacks, sold as “A giant leap for snack-kind”; Flat Earth baked veggie crisps; Quaker Tortillaz, promoted with the theme “Good stuff made delicious”; Smartfood, which urges those with the munchies to “savor something you can feel good about”; Stacy’s pita chips, billed as “Simply naked”; and Terra Chips.
Even traditional brands of snack foods are trying to get into the act, among them Lay’s potato chips, which are celebrated in a new campaign for the simplicity of their ingredient list: potatoes, oil and salt.
If that does not make you feel better about Lay’s, its owner, the Frito-Lay division of PepsiCo, has its bets covered: The company also makes Flat Earth, Quaker Tortillaz, Smartfood and Stacy’s, along with other so-called healthier snacks like SunChips. (Another packaged foods giant, ConAgra, bought the maker of Alexia, Alexia Foods.)
Snack chips is “one of the most cluttered categories,” acknowledges Keith Belling, chief executive at Popchips Inc. in San Francisco, a self-described “classic serial entrepreneur” whose background includes forays into restaurants, coffee bars and online services for small businesses.
He speaks from experience on the chip front. “As a snacker, I used to love fried chips,” Mr. Belling says, but “I used to hide my bag of Doritos.”
And he “didn’t like baked chips,” he adds, because they did not provide enough snacking oomph.
Looking to “do something in the natural-foods space,” Mr. Belling recalls, he met Patrick Turpin, a former executive at Costco Wholesale who knew about “an interesting snack-manufacturing business in Southern California with a unique manufacturing process” that uses pressure and heat to turn potatoes into popped chips.
“It’s made on the same equipment you use to make rice cakes,” Mr. Belling says. “You now have a message for the consumer.”
And “as a snacker,” he adds, “I knew it had to be about taste, not a health message” because consumers have become conditioned to believe that chips proclaimed as healthier never seem as tasty as their regular counterparts.
So the packaging for Popchips, produced by Turner Duckworth, a brand identity and design agency in San Francisco and London, “has the feel of something you’d expect to taste good,” says Mr. Belling, who is co-founder of Popchips Inc. along with Mr. Turpin, the president.
“The surprise is in the nutritionals when you turn it over,” Mr. Belling says, referring to the nutrition facts on the back of each package, which list a bag of Popchips, about 18 chips, as having 100 calories, 3 grams of fat and zero grams of cholesterol, saturated fat or trans fat.
The text on the package back begins: “Lately all this low-fat health talk has been taking the fun right out of snacking, not to mention the flavor. So we found a new way to put it back into an all-natural chip like you’ve never tasted before.”
“We don’t fry it (unhealthy),” the text continues. “We don’t bake it (undelicious). We take wholesome potatoes, apply heat and pressure and pop! It’s a chip. Then we season it with the finest ingredients for a snack so tasty, crispy and dip-able, you won’t even notice that it’s (we hesitate to say) healthier.”
The tone of the package text, as well as the campaign, reflects that “snacking is not a serious thing,” Mr. Belling says. “It’s truly an indulgence.”
“Our mission statement is to bring the fun back to snacking,” he adds, and make Popchips “a little more fun and approachable” than some other good-for-you brands, which in their marketing may come across as “a bit highbrow.”
In addition to the campaign coming across as not too serious, say the executives at Pereira & O’Dell, the intent is that it also be perceived as not too complicated.
“A lot of advertising is getting too complicated these days,” says P. J. Pereira, chief creative officer at the agency, “especially when you talk about” uncomplicated products like snacks.
“People love to have a chip now and then,” he adds. “There should be a way to do that without all the guilt.”
The campaign is meant to signal that Popchips “is a simple revolution in the chips world,” Mr. Pereira says, by telling snackers “go enjoy, nothing more complicated than that.”
After all, “all it takes for you to understand the product is trying it,” he adds, because if you “try it, you’re going to love it.”
That opinion was echoed by Andrew O’Dell, chief executive at Pereira & O’Dell.
“The product is stellar,” Mr. O’Dell says, which is a major reason the campaign includes what he calls “a big influencer program,” providing samples to “people who are tastemakers” in fields like entertainment, fashion, media and retail.
“The challenge is making it good enough so they’ll go out and buy it,” he adds.
For those who travel in less rarefied circles, the Popchips Mobile Tour started last week in three cities — Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco — with a goal of making more than 300 stops during the summer to give away 500,000 bags of chips.
After that, Mr. Belling says, “we’ll take this show on the road” to the Pacific Northwest, followed by cities like Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Miami and Philadelphia.
Popchips is available at stores that include Costco, Duane Reade, Jamba Juice, Ralphs, Safeway, Target, Vons, Wegmans and Whole Foods.
Firehouse Subs, is a US-based, fast casual restaurant chain that specializes in hot subs. Founded in 1994 in Jacksonville, Florida by former firefighter brothers Robin and Chris Sorensen, Firehouse Subs serves sandwiches with meats and cheeses, “steamed” hot and placed on produce on a toasted sub roll. Locations offer a family-oriented atmosphere, with a firefighter theme that includes fire equipment throughout the store and a menu that features sandwiches with themed names. They offer hot sauces in a range of intensities. Pictures mounted on the walls highlight local firefighting history, as well as the founder’s history of firefighting service.
Firehouse Subs was named “Company of the Year” by KPMG in 2006, and is the “National Chain” winner of the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Neighbor Award for community service.
The Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization, was created in 2005. It provides funding and support for local firefighters.
Plans for expansion in 2006 were focused on the Northeast, Central, and Southwest regions of the US, with plans for another 100 restaurants to be developed.
As of September, 2010 there were over 390 locations, mostly in the southern part of the United States.
Article by AMY DuFAULT
It’s one of those stories you want to believe but think can’t possibly be true.
Two good-looking, successful brothers, Ian and Shep Murray, are fending well for themselves in corporate Manhattan. But they know another life is out there if only they trust in their ideas. The trick is to walk away from all they know to get to their utopia. It’s only a necktie and a credit card away to the good life.
Vineyard Vines started with four tie designs. The company has introduced about 500 since then.
Many employees of Vineyard Vines wear flip-flops to work.Employees take part in highly competitive games on the office shuffleboard table. Co-founder Ian Murray is the former drummer of new England indie band In the Attic and is now the lead singer and guitarist for the Ian Murray Band. Shep and Ian’s story was featured in “Chicken Soup for the Entrepreneur’s Soul.”
Their flip-flopped feet were made for walking, and that’s just what they did. They quit their New York public-relations gigs and put into production a small batch of ties, featuring fish and boats in vibrant colors.
During the Fourth of July weekend in 1998, the brothers covered Martha’s Vineyard by Jeep and boat, selling their 800 ties.
“We were confident the ties would sell, but we had no idea we’d be where we are today,” says Ian, the younger of the two brothers. “It’s been amazing to see how our business has grown, and the future possibilities are endless.”
Nine years later, on goes the story of Vineyard Vines, a continually evolving lifestyle clothing brand. Formed by the children of travel writers who summered yearly on the Vineyard, it’s on Inc. magazine’s list of the 500 fastest-growing businesses in the U.S. Vineyard Vines’ collections of ties, shorts, tennis shirts, belts and flip-flops for men, women and children are worn by those who seek an idyllic oasis, finding happiness in boating, fishing and living in colorful style.
“We created the lifestyle. The original idea was to take ‘The Good Life’ to work with us, then not to have to go into the city every day. We soon realized that if we sold enough in a day we could pay rent, then it was enough we could buy a boat,” Shep said at a recent ribbon-cutting ceremony at Puritan Cape Cod in Hyannis, the host of the largest Vineyard Vines in-store lifestyle shop in the Northeast. The company has concept shops on the Vineyard and Nantucket and in Mashpee and Greenwich, Conn.
The brothers say they have an innate sense of their market. It’s not limited to the wealthy boater sipping martinis astern with his wife or the college kids home for summer break looking for regional body armor. The brand had legs off the Vineyard, they say, and is a comfort to anyone, regardless of age or occupation, who wants to have fun exploring color and kitschy logos.
This year the Murrays sent out two “road teams,” one heading from Florida to Texas and another covering the brothers’ old college stomping grounds in the Northeast, to see what has changed since they were in school. The teams arrived on campuses in pink-and-blue trucks with lots of schwag to go around to help promote Vineyard Vines’ new college collection.
The brothers say many of their ideas come from the folks buying their products.
“We listen to customers when they say, ‘You ought to do this!’ and that’s what we make, that thing that people like and take with them from their island experience,” says Shep.
“Customers helped design this brand, and the amount of brand loyalty is incredible,” says Ian. “So it becomes not just a shirt but a way of life, a mini-vacation for them.”
Recent customer ideas for tie patterns were “Fish and Chips,” featuring clown fish and poker chips, and “Blender,” with blenders and cocktail glasses.
One question looms heavy after talking with them; reading all the press they’ve gotten, from the “Today” show to People magazine; and realizing all the work that’s involved in keeping a brand alive, especially one that you’d assume was regional.
Do they ever feel that they’ve rejoined the corporate life, considering how successful the brand has become?
“We have always said success will find you if you have fun and do what you love,” says Shep. “We’ve made it a priority to have fun, regardless of how busy we are.
“It’s definitely more difficult to get away now than it was in the beginning, but we really do live the good life. We’re out there fishing, sailing, spending time with our family, doing all the things we love.”