Keep your eyes peeled for this week’s U.S. launch of the Lay’s Smile Experience. The hallmark brand of PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division is producing 40 limited edition bags with smiles as a reminder that we should all smile a bit more. Looking to share that joy, Lay’s partnered again with the Virginia-based non-profit Operation Smile, an organization that provides safe surgeries to children born with cleft lip conditions all over the world.
The problem: “We smile so much as kids, but as we get older, we smile less and less,” said Sarah Guzman, senior director of marketing at Lay’s. The brand recently conducted a study that showed 9 out of 10 people felt happier after seeing someone smile; and that 95 percent would smile more often if they knew it could brighten someone's day. Life can get stressful, and “Lay's wants to remind everyone that their smiles can make a difference in other people's lives,” Guzman said following the launch of the Lays Smile Experience pop-up in New York.
As a brand that has celebrated happiness for more than 75 years, Guzman explained that their partnership with Operation Smile was a natural fit. “Operation Smile is an organization that gives families hope, one smile at a time,” she said. The medical charity estimates that every 3 minutes a child is born with cleft lip or cleft palate – a condition that can cause serious malnourishment and impaired speech. The CDC further estimates that it’s the second most common birth defect in the United States, following Down Syndrome.
The approach: The Lay’s Smile Experience kicked off with a three day pop-up in Times Square from February 8-10 with singer Jordin Sparks as a brand ambassador. Consumers were invited to roam around five rooms designed to put a smile on people’s faces, but one of the most memorable experiences was the giant yellow ball pit. “At one point we had to limit the amount of time people spent in the tub,” Guzman said jokingly. There was also a makeshift beach with a mini pool and surfboard; a life size Mr. Potato Head with interchangeable smiles; a swing room with the word “smile” printed on wallpaper in dozens of languages, and a 360 camera booth with confetti blasts for some enviable snaps.
The pop-up concluded with a final photo-op with one of their 40 personalized Smile bags, and naturally, free chips. The limited edition bags come in take home and convenience store sizes, and in all of their 14 flavors. The bags are available until early April, when the campaign comes to a close. By the end of the month, you can also customize your own chips bag on their website.
Prior to the U.S. launch, the campaign has taken place in several international markets including Thailand, Egypt, Pakistan and China. Lay’s has previously collaborated with Operation Smile in Mexico and China. “We wanted to bring it to life in the U.S. market in a way that made sense for us. We thought it was an important for people to make a bigger impact, which is why we’re thrilled about the partnership with Operation Smile,” Guzman said.
The feel good: From the pop-up experience to the personalized packaging, the program was as joyous as it was thoughtful, with up to a million dollars of proceeds benefiting Operation Smile. Visitors said the room with the smile in different languages felt very inclusive, and all left beaming with a goodie bag of chips on their way out. Many were drawn to the event after seeing posts on social media channels, and #SmileWithLays has over 1,500 posts on Instagram. The number one takeaway according to Guzman? “People should smile more! Smiling has such a positive impact on our ourselves and on others,” she said.