- Ruffles, a PepsiCo company, has partnered with A’ja Wilson, a forward with the WNBA team Los Angeles Aces, to promote its new product, Ruffles Ridge Twists, per a news release.
- The partnership with Wilson marks the first time the brand has signed a female athlete to its Chip Deal roster. The multi-year contract is the first in a series of WNBA initiatives and also expands Ruffles’ basketball presence.
- The spiral-shaped potato chips are available in two flavors, Double Cheddar and Wilson’s own signature flavor Smokey BBQ. The collaboration comes as investment increases for the women’s basketball league.
Ruffles, which has long invested in the NBA, is expanding both its basketball reach and product line with a new partnership. The agreement with Wilson not only marks a turning point for the company, but also one for sports sponsorship as a whole as brands have made an effort to invest in female athletics.
“Through our Chip Deal signings, fans have been able to engage with their favorite NBA players in a whole new way, especially through their signature Ruffles flavors,” said Stacy Taffet, senior vice president of marketing, Frito-Lay North America, in a press release. “Now, as the Official Chip of the WNBA, we’re proud to welcome our first-ever female athlete to our roster with a flavor of her own.”
The WNBA has rode the wave of increased interest in female sports, with 2021 viewership up 51% from the 2020 regular season. It marked the league’s most successful season since 2008. The league’s growing commercial viability has led to increased interest from sponsors, especially as the conversation around sport equity grows. Ruffles’ emerging WNBA strategy, while overdue, is in line with the strategy of many brands who have a large presence in male sports.
Female sports overall have seen surging popularity in recent years, largely due to the international success of the National Women Soccer League (NWSL). In fact, the WNBA and NWSL were the only two professional sport leagues in North America to see viewership grow in 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Some experts even believe that women’s sports are a more valuable investment than male sports due to the large potential for growth.
In previous iterations of its “Own Your Ridges” campaign, Ruffles has teamed with NBA superstars LeBron James for a TV spot and partnered with Jayson Tatum on an exclusive sneaker collaboration. By teaming with Wilson — an Olympic gold medalist and four-time All-Star who has also been named Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year — the brand continues to team with basketball’s biggest stars.