Behind the Scenes of a Campaign That Brags -- Very Humbly

Cape Cod Ads Capture Chip Brand's Quality in Its Own Authentic Voice

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How do you take a brand that has an unpretentious profile and blast its attributes to the world without diluting its homespun image?

That was the task of Barton F. Graf 9000. The shop was to solve a good problem—in response to too much demand, Cape Cod chips wanted to concentrate its ad firepower on the West Coast rather than nationally. Though part of snacks giant Snyder's-Lance, which had net revenue of $1.62 billion last year, Cape Cod is still manufactured in small batches at a plant in Hyannis, Mass., which the company modestly admits is "the biggest tourist attraction on the Cape when it rains."

That very line, in fact, made it into the final campaign, which client and agency allowed Ad Age to participate in. Said Director of Marketing Alvaro Trinidad, "We have a relatable, believable story to tell about our authenticity."

The winning theme was "Back home, we're a pretty big deal." Banner ads convey that tone nimbly with lines like "Councilman Tinsley was once quoted as saying … 'These chips are darn tasty,'" and "The Black Cat Tavern serves our chips with their award-winning lobster roll."

Social executions dreamed up by the shop for future use include an interactive video in which a townie named Sully toots a giant foghorn for Cape Cod because the brand is too modest to toot its own. If a brand fan tweets something nice about Cape Cod, the "townies" will sound the giant horn at

One tongue-in-cheek video idea features Captain Jameson Hilliard, an otherwise average-appearing pilot who is legendary because he makes the Hyannis/Nantucket run in less than 15 minutes. He will not go anywhere without his Cape Cod sea salt and vinegar chips.

Another features a deceivingly tough crossing guard who says, "I love Cape Cod Chips. They are really yummy. The best in the world. And on the off chance you don't agree, why don't you quit your whining and come here and say it to our face." She shows that there is a map to the factory on the bag, which links to an interactive map of the actual factory.

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Last, the agency created a radio spot. In it one man tells another that Cape Cod makes two things: belts "with little whales on them" and Cape Cod chips. The belts, he says, "are an embarrassment" but the chips, on the other hand, "are a local treasure."

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