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Lay’s Potato Chips New Localwashing Campaign

Lays Truck

By now most of us are familiar with greenwashing, where marketers imply eco-friendliness through terms like “natural” and earthy-looking imagery on the packaging. Now, it looks like Frito Lay is turning its eyes to the local food movement with a new localwashing campaign.


The other day, I was out and about and ran across a billboard claiming that Lay’s potato chips were local to Georgia. On closer inspection I saw that they were referring to the fact that you can grow potatoes here.

Then a week or so later, I saw a TV ad featuring farmers talking about who grew the best potatoes. The gist of the ad was that since you can grow potatoes in many different places, Lay’s potato chips are local as well.

It turns out that this is all part of a new marketing blitz that their parent company, PepsiCo, launched called the “Lays Local” campaign. You can check out their press release here.

While it may be true that you can grow potatoes all over the U.S., I don’t think that a highly processed food product that’s shipped in trucks across the country is exactly in keeping with the local food movement. Since the term “local” is unregulated, marketers can use it at will. When a big company like PepsiCo decides to co-opt the term, they water down its meaning.

I much prefer the days when Lay’s marketing looked more like this:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/v/miYm0FM7UF8&hl=en_US&fs=1]

Hilarious old commercials aside, the whole thing has me wondering one thing: Is localwashing the new greenwashing? Triple Pundit reported yesterday on McDonald’s recent localwashing campaign in Washington state. Have you guys run across any instances of localwashing?

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by cafemama

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Becky Striepe is a green blogger and independent crafter with a passion for vintage fabrics. She runs a crafty business, Glue and Glitter, where her mission is to use existing materials in products that help folks reduce their impact without sacrificing style! She specializes in aprons and handmade personalized tote bags.

4 comments
  1. Robin

    Marketers will use anything that is popular to sell a product. Therefore, they'll grab on to the local movement or the organic movement or whatever sustainable foodies are interested in. Michael Pollan, in response to marketers that hijacked his "5 ingredients or less rule" came out and said the only way to get the marketers to stop doing it is to make a new rule. That rule is "Don't buy any food you see advertised." Food companies don't spend advertising on carrots or lettuce.

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