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Is This the Worst Attempt at Viral Marketing Ever?

Brought to you by Ashton Kutcher, Heidi Klum, Bruno Mars, and Natasha Bedingfield.

by Jamie Lee Curtis Taete
11 April 2012, 8:00am

A couple of days ago, a company called Popchips were kind enough to send our UK office a big box of free crisps. I always feel a little guilty not giving a brand coverage if they're nice enough to send me something for free, so here is a look back at some of Popchips' attempts at viral marketing. Which, I can fairly confidently say, is the worst viral-marketing campaign executed by any company ever.

Let's start with the biggest fail in their back catalogue (which, for some reason, is almost entirely soundtracked by the music from Gran Turismo).

I know it's hard, but I need you to look past the fact that, in 2010, a brand thought it would be a good idea to pay Natasha Bedingfield to endorse their product. And also beyond the fact that they've dragged Ellen Degeneres into this ad without her consent. (Can you imagine how quickly Natasha would've been ejected from the studio if they realized this is what she was doing in her dressing room?) And also beyond that weird thing with the hair at the start, and just concentrate on what happens at 0:44—Natasha's product endorsement grin slips for a second, revealing the impatient, money-hungry brat within, and she looks at the person operating the camera and asks: "What do you want me to say?"

Also, at no point does Natasha eat a Popchip in this video. So, essentially, this video tells the consumer that "we can't even pay people to talk about or eat our product."

Ellen isn't the only one who got "endorsement-raped" by these guys. Here's Dwyane Wade (who was recently paid $12 million to endorse Nike, BTW), having a bag of Popchips thrust into his hands after saying the word "colors" several hundred times. The clip ends so abruptly afterwards, that I can 100 percent guarantee his reaction was not a positive one. 

And they got Heidi Klum, too! Who, unbelievably, was polite enough to attempt to answer questions as bizarre and nonsensical as: "Do you think they like girls who smell like Popchips?" even though at the time she was probably in the middle of divorcing the husband they keep pestering her about. What a trooper (although she loses marks for not knowing what "Blue Steel" is even though she was in Zoolander).

This is part of a campaign they launched to find "the next VP of pop culture." It was made in 2010, back when, for reasons I no longer recall, people still really liked Ashton Kutcher. So bear in mind that this ad was probably very, very expensive to produce.

I've watched it, like, ten times now, and still have no fucking idea what he's talking about. I think the solution to the riddle is hidden in this sentence: "Popchips approached me to answer the question 'What is pop?' and help America and the rest of the world decipher between what is a trend, and what is pop culture," but I'm not entirely sure. Mainly because that sentence doesn't actually mean anything.

And to end, here's everyone's favorite JLS-midget-dressed-as-a-character-from-Westside-Story Bruno Mars, singing a hiiiiilarious ode to his favorite flavor of Popchips (spoiler alert: it's sour cream and onion). If you keep in mind that he was probably paid more money for doing this than you will see in the next five years I find it really helps amp up the charm.

There's probably way shittier things available to view on their channel (I started watching one where Ashton was driving a car that had the number plate "#PopChips"), but they've got almost 100 videos on there. And, honestly, I'm starting to feel a little bit sick.

Follow Jamie on Twitter: @JLCT

Tagged:
Dwyane Wade
Bruno Mars
viral marketing
natasha bedingfield
Heidi Klum
Vice Blog
Popchips
Ashton Kutcher