Frito-Lay Is Going to Rickroll You—However This Time Rick Astley’s in on the Joke

At first glance, it may seem insincere for a snack conglomerate to offer unsolicited advice on how to shed a few pounds in the New Year for consumers looking to lose weight.

Enter pop star Rick Astley and his 1987 hit “Never Gonna Give You Up,” and the tutorial suddenly seems light-hearted and fun – or at least that’s the intent behind Frito-Lay’s upcoming Snack a Little Smarter campaign.

“We really look forward to the response from fans to using the song in this New Year’s dissolution context,” said Ciara Dilley, vice president of marketing at Frito-Lay.

A storyboard by Frito-Lay gives a comprehensive overview of the main point.

While the details of what exactly is to come from Astley, who filmed in London on December 16, are still vague, campaign elements will almost certainly rely on wordplay while pushing brands like Smartfood, SunChips and better for you from the eaten path.

“Our target audience is … anyone who wants a well-rounded lifestyle, a comprehensive mindset, and may start the New Year with a new goal,” said Dilley. “Just like Rick sings, 2021 should be about not giving up what you love in order to pursue joy and happiness.”

The campaign kicks off in the US in the week after Christmas with a media purchase that has a heavy focus on streaming TV – including Amazon OTT – as well as internet radio via Spotify and social media. TikTok will emphasize this thanks in part to “Rick’s popularity on the platform,” “Dilley said. (He is said to have joined in November and has 1.5 million followers.)

The campaign will also include POS displays and influencer partnerships.

In an interview with Adweek, Astley said the campaign goes well with his own focus on healthy eating. (For information on brand equity, homemade pandemic content, unexpected TikTok fame, and the “magic dust” that was thrown around the studio on the day he recorded his biggest hit, see our Q&A here.)

Pop culture and nostalgia are familiar areas for Frito-Lay. In January, snack giant MC Hammer used its 1990 hit “U Can’t Touch This” to push Cheetos during the Super Bowl. And about a month ago it got Anna Kendrick to sing about her favorite things at the brand’s first vacation spot.

However, parent company PepsiCo’s business has seen mixed results since the Covid-19 outbreak. More home-eating consumers increased demand for snacks and packaged foods, while restaurant restrictions impacted soda sales. In PepsiCo’s second quarter, Frito-Lay North America was up 6% year over year. Quaker Foods has since grown 23%. The company’s beverage unit – the top-selling unit – declined 7%, contributing to an overall sales decline of 3.1%.

“This is going to be a roller coaster ride,” PepsiCo CEO Ramon Laguarta told analysts during a call for earnings in July.

The business has since become more stable. PepsiCo posted net sales growth of 5.3% in the third quarter – thanks in part to a recovery in the beverages segment.

In October, the snack giant debuted with a campaign with actress Tracee Ellis Ross debating which snack to choose from a pantry filled with Frito-Lay brands. More recently, PepsiCo released an online recipe hub and cookbook on Cheetos to provide creative inspiration in the kitchen as much of the country continues to cook meals at home.

The leading creative agency for their latest campaign with Astley is the Marketing Arm.

Snack a Little Smarter is part of a larger portfolio campaign by Frito-Lay called “New Year New You”.

Comments are closed.