Snacking enthusiasts across the Internet recently criticized the Doritos brand and Indra Nooyi, the CEO of its parent company PepsiCo.
All because in a recent interview with The Telegraph, Nooyi announced that Doritos would be launching a “lady-friendly” version of the popular snack that would be quieter to eat and less messy.
Particularly, Nooyi’s comments that women “don’t like to crunch too loudly in public,” and that they “don’t lick their fingers generously and they don’t like to pour the little broken pieces and the flavor into their mouth” did not sit well with consumers who turned to social media expressing their disdain and accusing Nooyi and the Doritos brand of being sexist.
Tell you what, @Doritos. We'll accept the horrors of crunch if you create a chip which gives us pay equity and the luxury of walking alone at night unafraid.
Sorry, you're right. What we've been going on an on about is loud food. https://t.co/6r3U8ghMbJ
— Quinn Cummings (@quinncy) February 5, 2018
— DeAnne Smith (@DeAnne_Smith) February 5, 2018
In response to the backlash, PepsiCo issued an emailed statement stating the following:
“The reporting on a specific Doritos product for female consumers is inaccurate. We already have Doritos for women – they’re called Doritos. At the same time, we know needs and preferences continue to evolve and we’re always looking for new ways to engage and delight our consumers.”
A similar statement was also shared from Doritos’ Twitter account.
From a crisis communications standpoint, PepsiCo had to navigate a delicate situation.
If in fact, the company had plans to develop gender-specific products, it could not flat-out deny it in its response without risking being caught in a lie.
On the other hand, given consumer reaction to Nooyi’s comments, admitting such plans (if they existed) would only exacerbate the crisis.
In the end, PepsiCo’s statement neither directly confirmed nor denied specific allegations, while stating that its current product can be equally enjoyed by both men and women.
When trapped in what seems like lose/lose communications conundrums, companies can sometimes choose to take a minimalistic approach to addressing the situation at hand, which can enable them to mitigate crises without further compromising their reputation.
If you need professional communications counsel by respected crisis management experts, contact Red Banyan today for a confidential no-cost assessment.