Lay’s® is a beloved American brand and the undeniable salty snack category leader. When people think of Lay’s, they immediately think of potato chips. But the brand wanted to expand consumers’ perceptions when considering Lay’s. We wondered… could we take an iconic brand like Lay’s and push it into new, culturally relevant territories that could break through to a consumer whose attention has become progressively harder to obtain?
The challenge was set, but matters were complicated as we found ourselves competing to accomplish this goal during one of the most crowded time frames of the year - the holiday season. How do we innovate an iconic 75-year-old chip brand that has made every potato chip form and flavor imaginable? Inspired by the popularity and buzzworthiness of ‘unexpected’ brand collaborations, the Lay’s team had a lightbulb moment – Lay’s has the best potatoes that make the best potato chips in the world, but what else can be made with them?
What if Lay’s took its one-of-a-kind proprietary potatoes and transformed them into something unexpected; a product to rival the iconicity and premium quality synonymous with Lay’s Potato Chips themselves. And just like that, Lay’s Vodka was born. From there, Lay’s moved swiftly to forge a partnership with Portland-based Eastside Distilling – a producer of high-quality, award-winning craft spirits – to develop its very own small batch, premium potato vodka.
An offering this noteworthy needed a packaging aesthetic to match the craft spirits inside. With Millennial consumers in mind, the design team took a sophisticated approach, delivering a premium, small batch look and feel for Lay’s Potato Vodka. The label is beautifully foiled with Lay’s signature yellow central to the pack, showcasing the iconic logo embossed in a sleek black. The brand’s red accent color touts the use of Lay’s proprietary potatoes along with Eastside Distilling’s Portland Potato Vodka, which makes it wholly unique. A red-notched label on the lower portion of the bottle indicates Eastside as the distiller and highlights the small-batch statistics, reminding consumers they own a bottle of Lay’s Potato Vodka out of a run of just 1,300.
For this project, the design team also developed an exclusive influencer kit to promote this limited-time offer, complete with a beautifully branded golden-hued cocktail shaker to enhance the Lay’s Potato Vodka beverage-making experience. Lay’s leaned into Drop Culture to deliver its new vodka to the marketplace in a way that would generate maximum excitement for both consumers and the news media alike. The team developed a custom-designed microsite for Eastside Distilling to digitally merchandise its vodka and enable direct-to-consumer sales. No detail was spared, from the craftsmanship of the packaging and design and printing of the bottle’s label to the external shipper – all elements denoted the high-quality ingredients and products Lay’s is made famous for. These details also ensured that Lay’s vodka perfectly aligned with Gifting Culture, strengthening seasonal salience and making it a ‘must-have’ item of the holiday season.
Lay’s teased its pending launch with consumers on its social media channels, building excitement and speculation in advance of the full release that took place the following day. In addition to social posts and PR outreach announcing the launch, the brand seeded 40 bottles with influencers – the luxe packaging was a hit in their unboxing videos and the vodka received rave reviews. To keep the momentum (and conversation) flowing, Lay’s then inspired consumers with easy-to-prepare cocktail recipes via social media.
The project earned the hype it was hoping for, with Lay’s Potato Vodka landing 115 media placements and 1.6+ Billion earned media impressions. Lay’s was the lead or featured brand in 94% of the coverage, and 90% of coverage included 2+ brand messages. 88% of coverage included branded assets, demonstrating the power and appeal of design to resonate with media and consumers. In the end, Lay’s Potato Vodka successfully shook up the perception of the Lay’s brand and delivered a new extension of the brand that brought unexpected joy to consumers.