Grace Schofield

PR and Advertising Student

Being an Engaged Citizen

Lay’s Potato Chips

Some of my favorite memories include Lay’s Potato Chips. From movie nights with my girlfriends to afternoon snacks with my little brother and sister sitting around the dinner table and to the obvious, annual Super bowl parties at our closest family friends house…the chips have been there through it all. For more than 80 years, Frito-Lay’s have been putting their name and snacks on the racks all across the world. With 50,000 employees and thousands of recipes and flavors, you could say that they have done a sufficient job.

In 2012, Lay’s began one of the best interactive campaigns that their company and many others have seen thus far. They started the “Do Us a Flavor” contest that went viral. Customers from all over the world could submit what the thought would be the next terrific chip flavor for the brand. Submissions were very simple. All someone had to do was text/post on the Lay’s social media site their name, flavor name, and up to three ingredients, and the chip style.

Consumers could submit wildly bizarre yet terrifically delicious flavors in hope of winning and receiving the $1 million cash prize ( Lay’s didn’t mind the outrageous suggestions because it meant that their name was getting out into the world and minds were able to be put to work. The Huffington Post explains that Lay’s received millions of submissions at first.

The company then dwindled the submissions down to 20 flavors where a panel made up of chefs, foodies and flavor experts furthered to vote on what they thought should be the final three options (Huffington Post). The company then left the rest up to the public.

Throughout the entire campaign, Lay’s was constantly firing out tweets, GIFS, pictures, posts and reminders to vote or submit new flavors daily. Through this interaction they gained hundreds of followers on Twitter and began to see more likes and retweets than they had in the past. The consumers really loved the idea of getting a say in what would be the next hottest chip. They were able to put their creativity and taste-testing to work to help Lay’s find a chip that people would buy and talk about.

In July of 2012, Lay’s crowned their first “Do Us a Flavor” winner: Cheesy Garlic Bread submitted by Karen Weber-Mendham, a librarian from the Land O’Lakes, Wisconsin. With all of the success that was brought, Lay’s decided to keep giving the people what they wanted so in January of 2014 they ran then same contest over again.

This time 13.8 million flavor submissions came through, tripling the amount submitted in the debut trial. Lay’s Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger submitted by Meneko Spigner McBeth, a nurse from Deptford, NJ, was crowned the winner. Lays was finding huge success with the contest. It was an intimate way of getting to know their everyday buyers and beginning to form relationships across the world.

In addition to all of the online publicity that Lays did a great job of utilizing, the campaign also significantly impacted print, radio, TV, billboards and in store displays. It would have been too easy to focus solely on the online efforts in promoting contest. Lay’s really focused on the “power, reach and influence” of a variety of selected media to address a large and very broad audience (5-Minute-Marketing).

This contest has a very nice spin on the usual approach of the “new” and “improved.” An interesting and highly successful tactic that Lay’s used was Pop-Up tents. They located the tents in Times Square in New York City-a highly populated area. The tents were available to people to come and make flavor submissions, test the top 20 flavors, or purchasing snack bags from the pop-up site.

Lay’s also used brand ambassadors at their events and throughout their entire campaign. Eva Longoria and Michael Symon, celebrity chef, were always available at the pop up tents. Different booths and tents were set up to host the best looking like a Lay’s potato chip (Guerilla Marketing). Longoria and Symon were dressed as a top favor finalist (Chicken and Waffles) to hand out samples.

Lay’s is offering the “Passport to Flavor” campaign now to give fans and customers the opportunity to see the different places that inspired the wild and spontaneous flavors themselves. According to PR Newswire, customers can purchase specially marked products and enter in their online codes for a chance to win travel gear, domestic and international getaways and other travel themed prizes. Lay’s is truly going above and beyond what any other chip manufacturer has done before and it is surely paying off. I look forward to see what kinds of flavors and contests they come up with next!

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