PepsiCo tried to dispell the story about a line of Doritos made for women, which dominated social media on Tuesday, but it might be too late to put the genie back in the bottle.
The story began with PepsiCo CEO, Indra Nooyi, who was interviewed on WNYC's Freakonomics radio show last Wednesday. She told host Stephen Dubner that the company was working on solving women's "least favorite thing" about Doritos, so they could develop a line of chips specifically for female consumers.
Nooyi explained that men "lick their fingers with great glee, and when they reach the bottom of the bag they pour the little broken pieces into their mouth, because they don't want to lose that taste of the flavor, and the broken chips in the bottom."
She claimed that "women would love to do the same, but they don't. They don't like to crunch too loudly in public. And they don't lick their fingers generously and they don't like to pour the little broken pieces and the flavor into their mouth."
To clarify, Dubner asked Nooyi if the company was specifically working on a line of "Doritos for Women."
"It's not a male and female as much as 'are there snacks for women that can be designed and packaged differently?' And yes, we are looking at it, and we're getting ready to launch a bunch of them soon. For women, low-crunch, the full taste profile, not have so much of the flavor stick on the fingers, and how can you put it in a purse? Because women love to carry a snack in their purse."
The Internet had a field day with this revelation, lampooning the company's feeble cultural tone-deafness in the age of the Me Too movement and Time's Up campaign.
women: give us equal pay, stop harassing us, stop literally threatening our lives— Sammy Nickalls 🧚♀️ (@sammynickalls) February 5, 2018
brands: how about quiet doritos for women?
women: no, that's--
brands: snacks you can fit into your purse!
women: what? no--
brands: a pen that's comfy for your lady hands!
New Doritos crunchless chips for women pic.twitter.com/P2ujZr7hXo— Mujahed Kobbe (@Moj_kobe) February 5, 2018
Once the story had gone viral, Doritos tried to do some damage control through Twitter. "We already have Doritos for women — they’re called Doritos, and they’re loved by millions," the company wrote on their official account.
We already have Doritos for women — they’re called Doritos, and they’re loved by millions.— Doritos (@Doritos) February 6, 2018
Unfortunately for their PR team, the misdirect didn't seem to reassure customers, since the original quote came directly from the company's CEO.
The best way to deal with a PR nightmare is to completely own your mistake, apologize, and do something that demonstrates growth— Mikaela Slaney (@MalaySl) February 6, 2018
Nice cover! Close call on that one. Let's just burn what we made and act like it definitely wasn't going to be released soon. pic.twitter.com/GyNMAfVoXr— Corey Nelson (@syosm) February 6, 2018
Nooyi herself has been touted as a trailblazer for women in the workplace. She frequently gives talks on women in leadership, and she was listed on Forbes' list of the most powerful women in the world. She is one of only 27 female CEOs currently leading Fortune 500 companies.