"I was convinced you were not able to tell a consumer you can have
a healthy fried chip or a good-tasting baked chip," he said. As the
name indicates, PopChips are neither baked nor fried, but popped
via a combination of heat and pressure (not all that different from
Once he was happy with the product, months were spent
interviewing between 20 and 30 package-design firms before hiring
Turner Duckworth to give PopChips a brand identity and brightly
colored snack bags. While it's used a variety of advertising
agencies, including San Francisco-based Pereira & O' Dell and
now New York-based Kraftworks, its grassroots marketing approach, a
blend of hyperlocal and social marketing, has stayed largely the
One addition to PopChips' outreach is celebrity spokesman Ashton
Kutcher, who approached PopChips earlier this year. "He was a fan
of the brand, and we were doing a round of financing, and Ashton,
through a mutual friend, said he'd be interested in investing."
Then he said he wanted to be the company's "President of Pop
Culture" and help shape the brand's social-media strategy. "I
assumed I was getting punk'd," Mr. Belling said.
PopChips have been picked up for distribution nationally by
Target stores, Whole Foods, Jamba Juice, 24 Hour Fitness gyms, and
are served on Virgin Airlines.
The company, which projects 100% growth to $40 million in
revenues for next year, is already making a significant dent in the
$5 billion to $6 billion category. That's making it the model for
smaller companies that are now trying to get a toehold in the
popped chip category.