Never shy of a publicity stunt, Walkers has put the fate of three of its most popular crisp flavours in the hands of the ever-trustworthy Great British voting public.
The company said it could ditch old favourites Smoky Bacon, Salt and Vinegar and Prawn Cocktail, after it pitted them against Lime & Black Pepper, Paprika and Bacon and Cheddar in a public vote.
People can cast their ballot to save each of the three old stalwarts or they will be replaced by the young upstarts, Walkers has promised.
The company is again courting controversy with its new campaign, which has a distinctly Brexit flavour.
The three classics have had their packets emblazoned with the Union Jack, while the new varieties sport the foreign flags of Spain, Australia and the USA. The bags are stamped with the message “You choose”. Voting in the crisp “referendum” begins on 14 August and closes on 22 October.
As Walkers’ marketing team will no doubt be aware, recent times have delivered their own fair share of electoral egg-on-face and Walkers is perhaps hoping it will be the latest in an roll call off foul-ups.
David Cameron stepped down after the EU referendum went awry. Theresa May has limped on after going to the public to secure a “historic majority”, only to be handed a metaphorical slap in the face. And who could forget the National Environmental Research Council reneging on their promise to allow people to name its new research vessel because it didn’t see the funny side of the Boaty McBoatface moniker.
While Walkers is clearly tapping into the public mood of “sticking it to the man”, the company is not, in fact, allowing democracy to have the final say, instead favouring the invisible hand of the market. Sales of each of the respective flavours will count for 80 per cent of the vote, while ballots cast will make up the remaining 20 per cent. So the underlying message appears to be “buy more crisps”.
Walkers will be hoping its latest ploy fares better than the 2017 champions League Final giveaway which invited football fans to send in a photo of themselves which was then inserted into a video with Gary Lineker.
Social media users duly responded, sharing videos of the Walkers frontman with images of Fred West and Josef Fritzl among others. Although, either way, the coverage would have done them no harm.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies