Millennial Media Opps: Lay's launches potato vodka, significantly increases digital spend

To celebrate the winter holidays, Lay's made its foray into the specialty liquor world with the debut of a new potato vodka. It sold out online within a day. According to Frito-Lay senior marketing director Melissa Mirando, this launch is an initiative to provide customers with "new and innovative ways to bring joy and fun." Sellers should avoid being Lay-zy (I tried) here; contact soon to see what plans Lay's has to promote this new product.

Apparently, most Americans are planning on indulging more in alcoholic beverages than ever this holiday season, per a recent survey conducted by Diago. 81% of respondents expected to do at least one thing "in excess" during the season, and 40% of millennials said they'd be "ashamed" if people in their lives knew they were drinking more than they should, compared to 23% of Gen-Z and of Gen-X and 33% of boomers. The potato vodka is an effort to benefit from that trend.

According to iSpot, Lay's has spent approximately $28.4m on national TV commercials YTD, down 26% from the approximately $38.5m it had spent by this point last year. The brand ended up spending approximately $38.7m on this channel last year, up 32% from the approximately $29.4m it spent in 2019. Lay's 2021 commercials have targeted millennials watching shows such as Chicago P.D., FriendsFútbol UEFA Liga de Campeones, Blue Bloods and Hawaii Five-0.

Since the beginning of 2021, Pathmatics shows the chip brand has allocated roughly $24.6m toward digital ads, up 44% from the roughly $17.1m it allocated within the same 2020 timeframe. In 2020, Lay's estimated full-year spend of $20m reached more than 4x that of $4.8m in 2019. The brand has earned around 2.5b digital impressions YTD via Instagram (38%), Facebook (33%), desktop video (24%), Twitter (4%) and desktop display (1%) ads. This year's desktop video ads have been placed site direct onto (99%) and (1%).

Lay's has a wide target demographic in general, but right now it's particularly targeting millennials, especially with this new vodka option, per the results of the aforementioned survey. Kantar data shows that the brand also invests in local broadcast. It holds planning conversations in Q1 and buying conversations in Q4. 

Agency & martech readers - I see no major reasons why Frito-Lay would conduct agency reviews anytime soon, but it may be possible at some point to pick up project-based work. The company's current roster includes media AOR OMD and creative and digital AOR The Marketing Arm.