Smile! Bags of Lay’s potato chips will feature kindhearted Dallas people
by Sarah Blaskovich, GuideLive | July 23, 2019
You’d be surprised how hard it is to smile on command, says one Dallas woman.
Frito-Lay invited 31 people into a photography studio in Dallas, then asked them to mug for the camera. Their big, goofy grins will be displayed on more than 100 million bags of Lay’s potato chips nationwide starting July 28. Fourteen of those smiles belong to Dallas-Fort Worth folks.
The Plano-based chip company picked “smilers” who are doing big things in their communities — people who “were really positive and heartwarming,” said Katie Ceclan, senior marketing manager at Frito-Lay.
Paige Chenault, founder of the Birthday Party Project and a Dallas resident, is an example: Her nonprofit hosts birthday parties for kids in homeless shelters and transitional living facilities. Other local faces on bags of chips on grocery-store aisles will include Kam Phillips, creator of Fort Worth company Dream Outside the Box, which helps propel kids toward higher education; David Vobora, a former NFL player and founder and CEO of Adaptive Training Foundation, which offers gym training for people with life-altering injuries; and Mary-Ellen Glosser, who takes her golden retriever therapy dog, Tucker, to visit kids in the hospital.
Chenault said the experience was “unbelievable” because the bags of chips bearing her smile also name her nonprofit. “I’m really excited about the opportunity to be in front of new eyes,” she said. “This is a tremendous gift to our organization — that our footprint will spread far beyond one region.”
She learned to be a model for a day, too. It’s harder than it looks, she said.
“There are 25 people watching me make silly faces,” she said. “I have a great dentist, but I probably need to work on my teeth.” Despite occasionally awkward moments in the photo shoot — during which Chenault contorted her mouth in nearly every way possible, even adding yoga poses to change things up — Chenault says the experience with Frito-Lay afforded her a free photo shoot and millions of opportunities for free advertising. She also made some new friends.
“Once [the photo shoot] was over, I hung around and got to know some of the other smilers,” she said. “Just to hear the stories of people around the country and what they’re doing: It’s so unique yet it’s so specific to their gift. That’s what I love the most.”
It’s the second year Frito-Lay has done its “Smiles” campaign. It donated $1 million last year to Operation Smile, the nonprofit that offers free surgeries for kids and young adults with cleft palates. Frito-Lay has a goal of donating $1 million to Operation Smile again this year, Ceclan said. The money comes directly from sales of its “smiles” bags: a variety of potato chip flavors, sold as traditional, wavy, lightly salted, poppables and kettle-cooked.
Chenault said she’s excited for her nonprofit to get extra attention but noted that the best part of partnering with Frito-Lay has already happened: While visiting the headquarters, a 17-year-old Frito-Lay intern approached Chenault. The teenager told Chenault that the Birthday Party Project had celebrated her 14th birthday at Family Gateway, a place for homeless families in Dallas.
Chenault cried right then. She cried again telling the story.
“This is the greatest gift I could ever be given,” she said of that chance interaction. “Don’t give me anything for the rest of my life. This is my greatest gift.”
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