Walkers is launching a new crisps range called Extra Crunchy next month, available exclusively in sharing bags and backed by a £3.5m ad campaign.

PepsiCo hopes the power brand can tap into the runaway growth in the bagged snacks sharing sector, up 11.9% [Nielsen w/e 22 May] across the trade and 19.6% in impulse [Nielsen, w/e 10 July] as staying in becomes the new going out.

Walkers Extra Crunchy will be available in 100g (rsp: 99p) and 150g (rsp: £1.69) sharing packs in five flavours simply salted, salt & vinegar, cheddar & sour cream, sweet chilli chicken and flame-grilled steak. Using the same 'continuous kettle fry' technology developed for its Red Sky range to deliver a harder bite, and featuring "more complex flavours", Walkers Extra Crunchy would be the top grocery food and drink launch of the year, predicted general manager Ian Ellington. It targeted a different type of consumer, he said.

"With current offerings targeted at more upmarket consumers, we believe we have identified a big opportunity in the Walkers heartland: creating an everyday sharing brand that families up and down the country can enjoy together as an evening or weekend treat."

The move follows the success of Walkers' sister brands Doritos, Red Sky and Sensations, which are up 28% in the sharing format, according to Ellington. A £3.5m ad campaign exclusively for the new range will run from 27 August and will see ambassador Gary Lineker pushing music legend Lionel Richie out of a shop for trying to share his crisps.