Let’s Be Honest: Not Everything Belongs On A Potato Chip
I like Lay’s Potato Chips. Literally. On Facebook. Years ago, I must have clicked that little blue “Like” button and ever since I’ve been subject to their digital advertising ploys, along with 6.7 million other fans. They’re great chips, an American staple, even. When I think of Lay’s, I’m brought back to memories of summer BBQs with chips and some good old-fashioned French onion dip (that’s what French onion dip is now, “old fashioned”). But that’s not good enough for Lay’s anymore.
The Lay’s “Do Us A Flavor” campaign took off a few years back, with what was dubbed an ingenious crowd sourcing technique to increase brand awareness and social media engagement. The campaign succeeded: within the span of the contest, Lay’s: added 2.2 million fans to their social network; received over 3.8 million flavor submissions in round one; and boosted overall sales by more than 8%. (Source: a case study done by the Brand Activation Association. Cheesy Garlic Bread was the winner, and the creator took home $1,000,000. Genius!
Now though, the contest seems to be going stale, and I’m about to un-like the brand digitally and stick to my plain boring potato chips and dip, thank you very much. Every day I see another ad: this third round of “Do Us A Flavor” is set to conclude today, and Lays has been counting down daily in an effort to boost last minute entries. At first, the concept was so clever and cool that Lay’s got me. I was their target demographic for the campaign (a “Millennial”, who, according to the case study, sought self-expression, authenticity and recognition). All these things are true; but they’re not what I’m looking for in a potato chip. Lately I find myself annoyed, rolling my eyes a bit, at the online suggestions from Lay’s for new flavor entries. Do blueberries really belong blended with potato chips for a “Berry Pie” flavor? I don’t think so. Should the taste of roasted chicken and mashed potatoes and peas be combined for a one-bite crunchy snack? No. Cucumbers and mint chocolate chip ice cream? Come on.
I get that they’re trying to go where no chip has gone before. I get that they want people talking about their brand, and here I am talking about it. However, there is such thing as TOO MUCH of a good thing. Do Us A Flavor was an awesome concept and the campaign did so much for the company. But it’s time to give it a rest. Move on to new marketing concepts, because that authentic vibe they were shooting for has been replaced with the sense that the brand is trying too hard now, grasping at straws to hold onto a great phase that has come and gone. The idea of gaining recognition doesn’t entice me to participate; with millions upon millions of entries, the point seems moot. And realistically, it’s 2015. Lets be honest…anything that belongs on a chip has been there. I haven’t clicked through a single flavor ad yet this time around since they all seem just a little too ridiculous. Nor have I purchased any of crowd sourced flavors once they hit stores. Maybe I’m a little too plain for Lay’s, but I’m sticking to the original with my dip and I’m happy about it.
~ Anne Martin, AAE, The S3 Agency