PepsiCo Design + Innovation On Making an Impact With Limited Time Offer Packaging

by Theresa Christine Johnson on 10/07/2019 | 6 Minute Read

Could a bag of chips be a vehicle for change in our world? 

PepsiCo Design + Innovation certainly thinks so, and two of their most recent projects—Rainbow Doritos and Stacy’s Pita Chip Rise project—revel in this fact, and it isn’t just for kicks.

Maybe when you hear the term limited-time offer (LTO) when it comes to packaging, you think about a special run for a summer blockbuster or a holiday. But there’s also LTO packaging that’s meant to have an impact. Maybe a brand wants to spark a conversation about a pressing, social issue, or they want to raise awareness for a particular charity. Regardless, design plays an integral part when it comes to creating the packaging.

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Be Bold

“We are not only trying to connect with consumers,” explained Dennis Furniss, Vice President of Design, Latin America, for PepsiCo Design & Innovation. “We’re trying to demonstrate openness and the conversation it is we want to create.” 

Now in its third year in the Latin American market, the approach to promoting Rainbow Doritos varies in each location, but the sentiment remains the same: connect with the audience through people who are deeply involved in the LGBTQ community, such as Pride and the marches in those countries. 

In the past, you’d easily recognize the bags Dennis and his team have created from their crisp, white background and the colorful rainbow shooting out from the Doritos logo. “It was always about disrupting what you’d expect to see on the shelf,” said Dennis, “but this year we went much more radical.” The packaging of Rainbow Doritos 2019 features people of all genders making a kissing face with their lips nestled right up to the edge of the bag. The result is a technicolor kissfest which “creates a world of love,” encouraging consumers to be their true, authentic selves. 

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And it’s that ethos that resonates throughout the brand’s original positioning of “for the bold” that allows them to go into these places in the first place. Once you’ve layered that into the brand’s design perspective, it helps bring that stance to life.

“‘For the bold’ requires a disruptive mindset which in-turn elevates the visual behavior of the brand,” Dennis says. “It engages design to connect people, influence change, and celebrate the individual spirit. ‘For the bold’ pushes us to advocate for design that stands out and gets noticed, it inspires us to create human connections that are driven by a powerful design purpose.”

And how did they do it? Well, they asked the design team to be bold.

"The guiding principle behind the concept is that love is such a beautiful thing that it shouldn’t be hidden,” said Tilo Rojas, Design Manager for PepsiCo Mexico. “It should be proudly shown, and everyone should be able to show their 'True Colors' as a reinterpretation of the rainbow flag. Under this premise, it was important to humanize the campaign by showing the real faces of the community. That’s why we designed four different versions of the package.” The design team even put one of their own who worked on the campaign on the packaging with his drag character “Nina de la Fuente."

“The eureka moment came when exploring how to connect their stories, and going back to the guiding principle, the answer was clear—through a kiss, the first impulse of love,” Tilo adds. “Great love was put on the campaign and the design, and it was the guiding principle behind it.”

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Paint the Picture

Similar to Rainbow Doritos, the Stacy’s Pita Chips Rise Project is also in their third year, and they feature an annual collection of LTO bags sporting artwork from incredible contemporary female artists.

Coinciding with Women’s History Month, the project strives to help female entrepreneurs grow their food or beverage business. When it comes to funding these businesses, a staggering 2.2% of all venture capital funds go to female entrepreneurs. This past year, PepsiCo and Stacy’s commissioned female artists to create a series of packaging that depicts the six stages of a woman’s journey when launching her own business venture—Inspiration, Courage, Grit, Nourishment, Success, and Community. In addition to donating money to the United Way fund that awards those grants through the Rise project, they also sold limited edition prints of the artwork featured on the bags with proceeds going to the same fund.

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The Design + innovation team worked closely with the artists to help them develop the metaphor for each step of the journey. For instance, Indian-born artist Amrita Marino contributed work for the Courage phase, and she drew heavily from her own experience of leaving her engineering job for that of a graphic designer. She depicted that leap of faith by drawing up a trapeze artist because of the grace and strength necessary to switch gears when it came to her career.

"The mission of the STACY’S RISE project is earnest,” explains North American Brand Design Director Susan Gornell. “We set out to support female founders and shift the world's venture capital imbalance to better support these smart and inspiring woman entrepreneurs—so it was essential that we were equally earnest when concepting the designs. To do this, we extended the overall RISE mission to our own internal process and ultimately gave support to six emerging female illustrators by leveraging the power of our STACY’s brand to bolster their exposure which has helped their own ‘rise' within the creative community and beyond."

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Give Them Something To Talk About

In the case of Rainbow Doritos, being bold not only meant finding a tangible connection with consumers but using their design know-how to enable that expression and execution through their work, putting a human face on the packaging to drive that emotional connection home. But you also have to tell a story. By tracing each step in the uphill battle that every female entrepreneur must face, they not only raised money to award grants to women trying to kickstart their businesses, but they also drew attention to the journey of strong, female entrepreneurs everywhere and the inherent unfairness of the funding gap.

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Today, social connection drives the choices of consumers. We live in an era where people don’t want to purchase items to give them the life they aspire to have—they want something that gets them talking, something that makes them think, and something that makes them understand the brand is listening, too. 

You can leverage your brand to help create a more open society, and while it can be a challenging route to go for any company, you have to be prepared to go into territory which is not initially easy for a brand. But it’s a long-haul mission, and in the end, making that connection with consumers and cultivating a conversation with them is the most important thing you can do, and not just for a limited time only.

Go here to learn more about PepsiCo Design & Innovation

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