PepsiCo has already shot down rumors that it was planning to release a special line of low-crunch Doritos just for women, but it turns out the damage might already be done.
New data from Digimind, which tracks consumer sentiment, suggests that the Doritos brand has taken a significant PR hit. By coincidence, the firm was already tracking sentiment around Doritos for the Super Bowl, and it found that negative opinions about the brand spiked 138% between the game day on Sunday and two days later—after the stories about “Lady Doritos” made the rounds. According to Digimind, negative sentiment was at a low of 13% on Sunday, likely because of positive reactions to its commercial, which featured a rap battle between Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman.
For the analysis, Digimind looked at more than 118,000 mentions on Super Bowl brands across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, in addition to TV and radio.
The sharp rise in negative sentiment bolsters the idea that negative stories can hurt a brand regardless of whether they’re true or not. It reminds me of the infamous story in the mid-’00s about a woman who supposedly found a human finger in a bowl of Wendy’s chili. The story was a hoax, but it hurt the restaurant chain’s bottom line nonetheless, probably because a finger in your chili is a hard image to get out of your mind.
For the sake of the snacking masses (women and men alike), let’s hope Doritos proves more resilient.