Marketer's Brief: Lay's 'Do Us a Flavor' is over, but quirky flavors aren't

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Welcome to the latest edition of Marketer's Brief, a quick take on marketing news, moves and trends from Ad Age's reporters and editors. Send tips/suggestions to [email protected]

Gymboree is back from bankruptcy and has a fresh marketing push to spread the word—featuring the earwormiest of earworm songs to spread the word. Enjoy. But first read about trippy chips, cauliflower emojis and why paper cups have got to go.

Trippy chips

Credit: Lay's

Lay's Crispy Taco might be the answer to a trivia question some day. It was the winning flavor in Lay's "Do Us a Flavor" annual consumer contest last year. And it might be the last winner. The Frito-Lay ended the program last year after a five year run in the U.S., although a brand spokesman on Wednesday did not rule out the program returning one day. Still, fans of quirky potato chip flavors can take heart: Lay's on Wednesday announced a new program called "Tastes of America" that features eight regionally inspired flavors, including cajun spice for the Central Gulf, Chesapeake Bay crab spice in the Mid-Atlantic, fried pickles with ranch for the Midwest, New England lobster roll for Northeast and more.

The odd couple

After setting their own goals on recyclable packaging and targets to reduce or eliminate the use of disposable plastic straws, McDonald's and Starbucks are teaming up to tackle another big environmental headache for restaurants: paper cups. The two largest restaurant chains are founding members of the NextGen Cup Consortium and Challenge, put together by Closed Loop Partners, to work on a recyclable and/or compostable cup. McDonald's this month said it is committing $5 million, following the $10 million in funding Starbucks announced back in March. Closed Loop Partners says it has already gotten more than 1,000 inquiries from companies and individuals interested in participating. The challenge begins in September, with an initial focus on cups for hot and cold drinks.

Hold the bread

Food trends come and go, but cauliflower has enough buzz right now that one company, at least, thinks it's worthy of its own emoji. Caulipower just began an online petition seeking a cauliflower emoji, coinciding with July 17's World Emoji Day (we'll forgive you if you forgot to celebrate—so did we). Of course, the company behind the campaign has its own agenda. In just over a year, Caulipower has become a top seller of pizza made with a cauliflower crust, and has expanded into baking mixes. "There's a fair amount of humor in everything that we do," says founder and CEO Gail Becker, who left Edelman in 2016 to start the company, which launched in 2017. Her inspiration: her two sons, now 20 and 15, who have celiac disease and therefore can't eat regular pizza and other foods made with gluten. "The one test all our products had to pass was it has to be liked by kids," says Becker, who says her products are now sold in 10,000 stores and on Amazon. The company's agency is Harmonica.

You got Rick-rolled by Gymboree

Children's chain Gymboree is rebranding in time for the back-to-school season. The brand, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year, is out with a new assortment of apparel, new interactive app, and supporting marketing campaign. Gymboree worked with Pittsburgh-based Where Eagles Dare on the push, which includes a video of children lip synching to Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up."

Challenging masculinity

Bonobos is back with another marketing push following its Project 172 campaign focused on male diversity earlier this year. The Walmart-owned menswear brand will air a 90-second commercial, its first national TV ad, during the ESPY awards Wednesday evening. In the spot, a diverse cast of men question traditional definitions of the word "masculine." The "Evolve the Definition" campaign will also include a digital and social media push. Bonobos worked with Observatory on the push.

Would you buy this?

Coffee beers have uhm, bean, around for a while… and now a mainstream coffee brand has one percolating. Dunkin' Donuts is collaborating with Boston-area neighbor Harpoon Brewery on a coffee porter, due out this fall. has more.

Number of the Week

100 million: the number of products Amazon says it sold to members on its 36-hour Prime Day, despite the epic fail of multiple glitches and "Uh oh" canine landing pages.

Tweet of Week

Comings and Goings

Boston Beer Chief Marketing Officer Jonathan Potter is resigning. The maker of Sam Adams announced the news this week in a regulatory filing. His last day is July 31. A spokeswoman stated: "After two years of weekly commuting from Western Connecticut, Jon has decided to leave Boston Beer, effective July 31st, to spend more time with his family. We plan to initiate the search for a new CMO immediately. We thank Jon for all of his creative thinking and insights and wish him much success in his next venture." Beer Business Daily called the move "surprising," saying "he's only been there for two years, and his tenure seems to have seen some success." While flagship brand Sam Adam's "woes persist ...Boston's overall growth is soaring," the publication noted. The move comes as Dave Burwick settles in as the brewer's new CEO. Burwick was formerly CEO of Peet's Coffee and is a former CMO of Pepsi-Cola North America.

Speaking of Peet's, Kenneth "Casey" Keller Jr. becomes the coffee company's CEO on Aug. 6, filling the role left vacant by Burwick, who had been CEO since 2012. Keller was most recently global president of Mars' Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. subsidiary.

PepsiCo North America Nutrition has tapped Sadira Furlow as chief marketing officer, a new post. She will be responsible for innovation and media strategy, nutrition marketing, data and digital work for brands including Naked and Tropicana. Furlow was a 2017 Ad Age Woman to Watch and most recently led brand marketing for the water portfolio at PepsiCo.

Ace Hardware Corp. has hired Kim Lefko as senior VP-chief marketing officer, succeeding Brian Wiborg, who is shifting into a merchandising role at the company. Before joining the 94-year-old brand, Lefko was CMO at Weber Stephen Products.

Contributing: Adrianne Pasquarelli, E.J. Schultz, Jessica Wohl

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