CTPerspectives: Did Pringles blow it on a layup branding stunt?

December 2020 | By Lizzie Manley

We suspect you’ve all heard the quote about success occuring when opportunity meets preparation. We’ve been thinking a lot about it since Mr. Pringles opened his front door. Is the equation off? Or a problem in preparation? Because few opportunities have seemed as gift-wrapped as that one.

 

As a refresher, John Oliver (the host of the namesake show with more than 1M viewers) dared Pringles, earlier this month, to reveal the body of the Pringles guy. A joke from last season had gained steam, with viewers sharing all sorts of hilarious ideas about his body – from a hermit crab to a body-positive swimsuit model. The reward if they followed through? $10k to Feeding America. And, not stated, millions in exposure. Days later, Pringles revealed the body – and well …

 

So we asked CTPers , “Did Pringles miss a huge opportunity? More importantly, how could they have made this a great moment for the brand?”

 


 

The response had less flavor than their no-taste product. (God, I hate Pringles.)  Forget a body, Kellogg’s blew the opportunity to infuse some personality into its staid brand. Minutes after John Oliver first uttered their name, the Pringles social team should have jumped. It’s why big CPG brands need to be ready in Oreo-fashion to capitalize at all times. After the initial response they could have launched a short mockumentary on the real Julius Pringles and his early struggles. Something Oliver would have put on the show. Or leaked never-seen-before photos of Pringles partying in college. Or actually make his body funny. Anything to give a boring product a bit of intrigue would have been better than what they settled on. – Brian Heffron, Partner

 


 

It was a dream social softball, right down the middle. And Pringles whiffed. They should’ve gone big with some sly pop culture references. Like, the Mandalorian taking the mask off to reveal he’s actually Mr. Pringle. Or a behind the scenes of the WAP video showing one of the dancers is actually Mr. Pringle. Or a Tik Tok filter, introduced by Charli D’Amelio, that turns your face into “a hard boiled egg impersonating Tom Selleck.” AKA Mr. Pringle. C’mon people, this isn’t rocket surgery. – Steve Angel, SVP, Director of Strategy 

 


Pringles could have done so much better with this by pursuing one of many options that would have made for a more visually interesting reveal. Off the top of my head:

 

  1. He has no body (which would have been a great reveal) 
  2. The tube/can is his body (personal serving tube size: short and squat)
  3. His body is somewhat like the pillsbury dough boy and for some reason overalls/lederhosen feel very on brand to me

 

But, from a designer’s standpoint, I think the mistakes started earlier. As you can see from the recent brand refresh, Pringles simplified Julius, adding more flat color and removing the hair from his head. He is now bald and the mustache is the key feature. The company has customized Julius’s facial expression per Pringles flavor category (basic flavors, wavy, and spicy), but they played it really safe. His eyes are shut on wavy for some reason and he has steam coming out his ears on spicy. Pringles really missed an opportunity to customize his mustache to the flavor category. wavy mustache for wavy pringles, spicy tightly curled or flaming mustache for spicy pringles, thin pencil mustache for light / reduced fat pringles. – Allison Spitaels, Senior Designer

 


 

Pringles really screwed the pooch on this one. They look lazy and unimaginative. It’s clear that someone threw on an old suit and some branded swag and made their significant other snap a photo in their living room. My question for Pringles would be…why live action? Why couldn’t they design something stellar using the medium Mr. P is recognized in…Illustration? And they could have had SO much more fun with this if they took some inspiration from folks who offered their hilarious thoughts on the interwebs. Definitely a missed opportunity and one Pringles won’t live down any time soon, I’d imagine. – Nikki Peters, Management Supervisor 

 


 

They blew it. Pringles could have gotten a lot of mileage here by delaying the reveal. Plus they may have been able to increase the $10K donation by creating some demand around the reveal. The Pringles body looks like something put together by a couple of interns who ran to Michaels with just enough petty cash to buy felt. – Frank Giovaniello, Finance Director

 


 

I would say this was a missed opportunity, for sure. How fun would it have been to showcase some user generated images of the Pringles guy across various cans!? I would imagine kids would especially love picking out a fun can at the grocery store among all the options on the shelf.  – Lauren Kimball, VP,  Director of Brand Management 

 


 

Pringles certainly missed on this. What could have been an easily marketable, low-cost social campaign for the fan and consumer fell flat. The brand could have taken the best fan submissions and shared them, or made a contest out of it. This was also an opportunity to do something fun with the packaging. They also missed making the reveal a broader event – not only viewers of John Oliver but anyone who enjoys Pringles. All for what seems like a relatively small donation of $10k for a national brand. – Brett Labnon, Sr. Marketing Analyst

See our work.

Partner with us.

See our work.

Partner with us.