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Bert Lahr for Lays chips

Podcast listeners: can they pass the Lays potato chip test?

Edison research has good news for podcasters. The share of Americans 12 or older who have listened to “at least one podcast” in the past month has jumped by two points: from 15 to 17 percent. That is around 46 million people, the data company says.

As the chart below shows, Edison has been tracking this phenomenon for quite a few years. In 2008 the percentage stood at nine percent; so the share has almost doubled since then.

Edison Research

The question for me is how many of these podcast consumers could pass an auditory equivalent of the Lays Potato Chip test? Not many, one hopes.

Some background: in the 1960s the snack company launched an advertisement campaign with a brilliant slogan: “Lays potato chips: bet you can’t eat just one.” The TV ads got more and more elaborate. One showed a medieval prince asking for a princess’s hand in marriage. The king gives the green light if the lad can eat just one Lays potato chip. He can’t, of course, and is consequently sent off to a dungeon, the princess sadly exclaiming “Oh no, not again.” Meanwhile a chorus of failed suitors in the gallows sing: “We tried, but we couldn’t do it. No one can eat just one.”

My favorite TV spot in this series involved the actor Bert Lahr, best remembered for his role as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz.

I presume that most podcasters would want their listeners to fail the podcasting version of the Lays potato chip test, unable to listen to “just one” episode. But to get a hint of whether they do, some survey will have to ask the obvious query: how many of those 46 million people listened to at least two or more podcasts in the previous month?

In pursuit of this goal, we should remind the public that, unlike potato ships, podcasts are fat and calorie free . . .

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