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Eli Sussman is currently a line cook at Mile End in Brooklyn, NY and just released his second cookbook, This Is A Cookbook. But in a past life he worked in the world of advertising and wore lots of hats — agonizing over taglines, staring at Excel docs, wondering why those CTR’s were so damn low. Each week in Ad Snacking he takes a close look at a food advertisement.

This week’s Ad Snacking is like taking candy from a baby (a really lazy baby trapped in 2009 that works in the “creative” department for an ad agency). Lay’s potato chips has made my job here very easy with this train wreck of a commercial to promote their million-dollar “name a flavor” challenge.

The ad is so jam-packed with out-of-dates cameos, awful character clichés and re-used viral video tricks, it may be hard to unpack all of the crappiness in one edition of Adsnacking. It’s commercials like this one that make me happy this column exists — so grab a seat on the Rip-It-Apart Express Train to Disasterville. I’m channeling Lewis Black this week, so as your conductor I’m warming you that it’s gonna be a loud, finger pointing, R-rated ride. Note the all-caps emphatic yells.

Here’s the ad. If you still want to eat Lay’s after this, you are an ad agency’s wet dream and my new least favorite person. 

Product: F
Do ME a “Flavor,” Lay’s, make a good potato chip. Last time I checked it was the job of the potato chip company to…MAKE POTATO CHIPS! Lay’s must employ dozens of full-time flavor scientists. What the hell are they doing? Playing Angry Birds? Make up some goddamned flavors!

While I’m willing to acknowledge the potential upside that a submit-your-own flavor contest may get people to feel invested in the brand in the short-term, once you pick a flavor, there is only ONE winner. So great work Lay’s, you ran a national campaign that results in ONE happy customer, thousands who will settle for some awful new flavor concoction (NEW! Turkey and stuffing potato chips) and tons of customers who will be sure to take to the web to mock whatever flavor is selected as the winner (NEW! Cream pie potato chips!)

Message: D-
Lay’s: Layziest Company in America. Hey readers, let me put my feet up for the rest of the columns this year while you all write them for me. I’ll be on my couch eating a huge bag of Carp Gefilte Fish potato chips (my flavor submission). Everyone just send in a few articles, I’ll pick the best one and send the winner $5. Don’t worry losers, I’ll definitely repurpose the articles I don’t select without giving you credit. 

Creativity: F
The Flavor of the Month (circa 2009)
What year is it? When Chef Symon (now accessible because of the horrendous “The Chew”) gets accosted by B- list actress Eva Longoria holding her chip ideas scrapbook, I could have sworn I time-traveled to 2009. I mean what the fuck kind of pairing is this? The only explanation is someone was super high flipping between Iron Chef and Desperate Housewives reruns at 3am. Is Snooki’s day rate really higher than Eva Longoria’s?!

Eva is holding a gigantic book of chip ideas and the best she can come up with is MEXICAN SPAGHETTI? Why don’t they just make a puke flavor? Throw in a female black cop, the semi-sassy gay guy, time-traveling Plymouth colonialists, a reject bro from the Jersey Shore for good measure and then OH MY DEAR GOD ALMIGHTY is that a pie-throwing flash mob? Please tell me they aren’t going to start dancing. Oh Jesus Christ please don’t start dancing. Okay, they started dancing. I can’t take it anymore. Pass me the (NEW!) Arsenic (and old Lay-ce) flavored potato chips.

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