Doritos plays with NPCs in Fortnite

Who: PepsiCo Foods Canada, with BBDO for creative; Pixel Hunters for Fortnite map design, OMD for media; Citizen Relations for PR, Praxis for social media.

What: “Doritos x MRKNTN Tangy All Dressed Drop,” Doritos-inspired clothing on non-player characters (or NPCs) in the videogame Fortnite. The virtual clothing was designed by popular Montreal skate wear designer Markantoine Lynch-Boisvert, who goes by the name MRKNTN.

When & Where: The uniquely clad NPCs appear inside a special “Doritos Drip City” area of the game (or “map” in Fortnite parlance) which launched July 5 and will be active until the end of August. Paid social and influencer, including a two-hour Twitch livestream with Canadian gamer NickEh30, have been used to raise awareness.

Why: The campaign is to help launch Doritos’ new “Tangy All Dressed” flavour in Canada, and aligns with the brand’s positioning of looking at the world from unique perspectives—including for snacking—which means “bold flavours and unexpected takes on classics.”

In February, the “Try Another Angle” platform launched with a Super Bowl ad starring pop / hip hop star Jack Harlow, in which he wanted to find something new for his music and discovered it by adding more triangle.

That Doritos commitment to seeing things from new perspectives led to their own unique version of a “merch drop,” which has become a staple of fashion marketing and street wear brands in recent years.

“The Doritos brand has always been a part of culture and helps fans to try another angle in everything from their chip choices to their passions,” said Lisa Allie, senior marketing director of PepsiCo Foods Canada. “Tapping into our consumers’ ever-evolving interests allows our brand to stand for something beyond the flavour we offer in the chip aisle. And as a brand that targets a Gen-Z audience that is hyper-engaged and hungry for stimulating new ways to experience the world, video games offer us the right platform to meet our fans where they are.”

But why NPCs? “The most unexpected thing we could do to support our limited-edition flavour this summer was to make the clothing drop limited for NPCs,” said Allie. “This was our opportunity to pull them out of the background and help them boldly stand out, and that’s exactly what we did with our unexpected, NPC-only drop.”

How: By entering a game code, Fortnite players gain access to “Doritos Drip City.” Aside from the NPCs wearing one of the Doritos inspired outfits with “bold colours and iconic shapes” (ie. triangles), each NPC is holding a bag of Doritos Tangy All Dressed. The MRKNTN designed fashions can be previewed and explained at a special Doritos Drip City microsite.

“[W]e knew we wanted a partner who is trying another angle in their respective field,” said Allie. “Markantoine is best known for pushing the boundaries on skatewear to produce unexpected, modern and distinctive pieces unlike anything else in the streetwear space.”

The map also includes triangle-shaped buildings, a Doritos shop, and other easter eggs, “some of which may come in handy for our fans in the near future,” said Allie.

The map and Doritos inspired NPCs were designed by Pixel Hunters without assistance from, or any kind of sponsorship with Epic Games. Players (and brands) have long been able to make their own experiences and games within Fortnite, but in March, Epic introduced new tools including adding Unreal Editor, which is used widely in game design and increasingly in Hollywood. “Now… everything will ostensibly be faster, easier, and prettier,” said gaming site Kotaku when it was introduced in March. “You’ll be able to do more.” 

And we quote:  “The Doritos brand is all about trying another angle, doing the unexpected, and inspiring our fans to boldly express themselves and so we wanted to take this approach and bring attention to a part of gaming culture that rarely gets attention—NPCs.” —Lisa Allie, senior marketing director of PepsiCo Foods Canada

David Brown