Walkers crisps advert from 1996
In the 1880s Henry Walker moved from Mansfield to Leicester to take over an established butcher’s shop in the high street. Meat rationing after World War II saw the factory output drop dramatically and the company looked at alternatives to make use of the wasted capacity. With potato crisps being increasingly popular with the public, managing director R.E. Gerrard helped the company shift focus and began hand-slicing and frying potatoes.
Walkers is now owned by Frito-Lay, which in turn is a subsidiary of PepsiCo, with the current logo a derivative of the North American Lay’s logo. The company is still a significant presence in Leicester and sponsor Leicester City football team’s stadium, the Walkers Stadium. Gary Lineker, formerly a Leicester City footballer, is now the face of the company, starring in most of their advertising campaigns. The official website states that an estimated “11 million people will eat a Walkers product every day”. The company employs over 4000 people in 15 locations.
In 2000, Walkers 1995 advert starring Gary Lineker was named the ninth best television commercial of all time, in a poll conducted by The Sunday Times and Channel 4.
In February 2006 Walkers changed their brand label and typeset. They also announced they were to reduce the saturated fat in their crisps by 70%. They started frying their crisps in SunSeed oil, a variety of sunflower oil, claiming the oil’s higher monounsaturated fat content made it healthier than the sunflower oil which they used previously. They once again changed their packaging style in June 2007, rather similar to the logo used from 1998–2006.
As of late 2006, the company has added nutrition values on the front of the Walkers crisps packets.
Many of Walkers brands were formerly branded under the Smiths Crisps name. This comes from the time when Walkers, Smiths and Tudor Crisps were the three main brands of Nabisco’s UK snack division with Tudor being marketed mainly in the north of England and Walkers in the south. After the takeover by Pepsico the Tudor name was dropped and the Smiths brand has gradually been phased out in favour of Walkers.
The only products currently retaining the Smiths brand are Salt ‘n’ Shake, Salt & Vinegar and Ready Salted Chipsticks, Frazzles and the “Savoury Selection”, which includes Bacon Flavour Fries, Scampi Flavour Fries and Cheese Flavoured Moments.
In 1997, Walkers became the brand name of the Quavers and Monster Munch snacks.
In 2002 Walkers bought Wotsits from Golden Wonder.
In 2007 Walkers launched Sunbites, a range of crisps made using wholegrains.
In July 2008 Walkers launched its “Do Us A Flavour” campaign, challenging members of the public to think up a unique flavour of crisp. In January 2009 six flavours were picked and released as special editions, available until May 2009. During this period, consumers could vote on their favourite and the winner would become a permanent flavour. The winner of the competition was Builders Breakfast by Emma Rushin from Belper in Derbyshire.
Notably, Walkers package their cheese and onion crisps in blue packets, and salt and vinegar in green. This is the opposite livery to most other UK crisp manufacturers, such as McCoys Crisps and Golden Wonder.
Info gleaned from Wikipedia