Gender Stereotyping In The Chip Aisle: Ruffles’ Ultimate Insult

New Ruffles Ultimate
AdvertisingFood & DrinksShopping 15 Comments

It’s somewhat refreshing, albeit pathetic and sad, to see that gender stereotyping does not discriminate when it comes to the marketing delivered by some of the biggest consumer brands in the world. We gave you our take on the recent Kohl’s “Shop To Win” campaign geared toward women and our supposed universal love of competitive shopping. Now we’re headed to the chip aisle to talk about Ruffles new Ultimate Potato Chips & Dips, a.k.a. man chips, targeted specifically to the stereotypical male.

From the official launch press release issued by PepsiCo, the parent company of Frito-Lay, the new Ruffles Ultimate Potato Chips & Dips feature the “deepest ruffles ridges ever to load up with bold real-food dips made with favorite ‘man’ foods and flavors”. Dear Ruffles/Frito-Lay marketing geniuses… forgive our ignorance, but can you please tell us what “man foods & flavors” are? All this time we were under the impression that our chip flavor preference was an individual and subjective choice, not something connected to our gender. Huh? Based on the flavor profile these new chips and dips will be offered in, “man foods & flavors” are: The Original, Sweet & Smokin’ BBQ and Kickin’ Jalapeno Ranch – and two dip varieties – Beef N’ Cheese and Smokehouse Bacon.

The press release goes on to say, “The chips rock ridges twice the size and depth of the ridges in original Ruffles Potato Chips and come in a variety of real food flavors sure to satisfy any guy gathering. The thick, deep ridges in the chips allow for guys to load up on hearty flavor with new hardcore dips – made with chunks of real bacon or real beef and cheese – achieving a truly unapologetic snacking experience that satisfies man hunger.” Seriously? Seriously… you can’t make this stuff up.

So, we’re left to wonder, is it that Frito-Lay doesn’t think women can handle their extra thick, “hardcore” flavor packed Ruffles chips and dips or is it that they figure women are simply smart enough to not eat a calorie heavy, salt bomb of a nutritiously void chip when we feel a hunger pang coming on, so they don’t bother marketing to us? On the other hand, maybe it has nothing to do with us at all; maybe the Ruffles marketers just don’t have a whole lot of respect for their male customers and have no issue painting such a stereotypical image of guys as lowbrow, nutrition ignorant, eating machines suffering from some fictitious, base ailment called “man hunger”.

And here is the insult to injury kicker. The new Ruffles ‘for men’ will be launched at men’s magazine MAXIM’s Hot 100 party in New York tonight. According to the press release, “…guys will be able to load up on the hearty flavors of Ruffles Ultimate potato chips and dips surrounded by MAXIM’s world’s most beautiful women of 2012.” The layers of stereotyping of both men and women are as thick as their chips with this Ruffles’ launch event… women being paraded around as “eye candy” for hot blooded, Neanderthal-type men to ogle, while shoving potato chips in their faces. Not sure whether to laugh or cry at the ridiculousness of it all!

  • dajuitsi

    AWESOME! Now I have something to eat with my Dr. Pepper 10-calorie for men only soda… …so dumb. I thought us men were only supposed to act like big morons, drink beer and kick each other in the nuts.

    • WYSK

      Thanks for your comment dajuitsi. We were hoping to get a man’s perspective on this topic.

  • Sr

    I thought the ridges were for her pleasure 😛

    • Jenrose

      can I send you my monitor-cleaning bill?

      Seriously, ROFL.

    • CaffeineFree

      Absolutely hilarious!!! Sr you should go work for the marketing team at PepsiCo/Frito-Lay… your spin is much more creative than their silly campaign.

  • sort of like a drinking game: take a shot each time they use the words deep, thick, or ‘real’.

  • Josh S

    I don’t know about this one. As a market researcher, there are some data that make this seem more reasonable (not entirely, but *more* reasonable).

    First, something like 70% of sweet & salty snacks (pretzels, chips, extruded snacks like pringles & cheetos, etc) are purchased by men. This is a STARK contrast to packaged food/groceries in general, which are purchased more frequently by women. So there’s a certain category of food-stuff that is purchased much MUCH more frequently by men.

    If you want to sell more of your stuff, you target your marketing to your key demographic(s). It’s something that every company does.

    So, the fact that they’re marketing to men in a very direct way doesn’t seem odd or bad to me. “The chips rock ridges twice the size and depth of the ridges in original Ruffles Potato Chips and come in a variety of real food flavors sure to satisfy any *GUY GATHERING*. The thick, deep ridges in the chips allow for *GUYS* to load up on hearty flavor with new *HARDCORE* dips – made with chunks of real bacon or real beef and cheese – achieving a truly *UNAPOLOGETIC* snacking experience that satisfies *MAN HUNGER*.” [My Caps/emphasis]

    The “guy gathering” and various references to guys and “man hunger” aren’t particularly bad. They’re just being direct in calling out the target audience of males. Most marketing to men is direct, because men tend to respond more rapidly to facts & claims rather than impressions/benefits/results/emotional emphases in ads.

    The difficulty is “hardcore” and “unapologetic” which assigns aggressive, extreme and/or uncaring traits to men. These aren’t necessarily the worst examples of male marketing (the Dr Pepper 10 would probably hold that title, as far as I can remember of marketing in recent history).

    So it’s not that women can’t handle these flavors or these chips, but that they aren’t the target market.

    There’s genderized language in there, to be sure, and that could be toned down without hurting the demographic targeting or the effectiveness of the ad. But targeting your marketing efforts is not a sexist activity. It’s a practical one.

    • grace h

      Clearly, this post has nothing to do with gender marketing… that is a no brainer. Every brand in the world knows the demographic make-up of their core and target customers and caters marketing and messaging to them. The point is not who Ruffles is marketing to, but how they are marketing to them, which in this case is through a base stereotype of men. This is not fact based marketing; it is driven by emotional language that plays into a really pathetic male stereotype.

      • #HashTagDeals

        so what do you say about Loreal or VIctoria Secret commercials. Why don’t they show men in bras and wearing makeup?

  • David

    When I dont know whether to laugh or cry, I just usually find someone to yell at. In this case, maybe that should be PepsiCo.

  • jovan b.

    Last night, while I was in Aiken, I was just about to get both packs of those chips.

    After reading this blog, I am glad that I did not buy either one of the packs.

    There is no such thing as “man foods & flavors” or “woman foods & flavors”.

    Also, I am disappointed again in Pepsi – they bought into the anti-choice lies about fetal cells in their drinks. Now, they are insulting women in their chip aisle.

    No more Pepsi products for me from here on out!

  • Amy

    Seriously people.. They’re just chips. Relax…

  • judith

    whether it is chips, soda or soap is not the point, we cannot keep seperating the sexes where no seperation exits. this just keeps the myth that men and women cannot be equal on many levels. yes, there are many differences between the sexes, but we should be highlighting the positve and eliminating the negative.

  • #HashTagDeals

    You’re joking, right? Does everything have to have his and hers labels to be politically correct? That’s just ridiculous. Men don’t freak out that female targeted products don’t say “for men” on them. Advertising is about appealing to your targeted dempgraphic. Did you ever think women might be too smart to eat junk food thus wouldn’t be beguiled by words such as “ultimate” and “kicking”