There's nothing new about crowdsourcing product varieties anymore, but Frito-Lay is bringing an interesting twist to a promotion that it launched today: offering the winner of a new-flavor contest the option of a prize based on sales of the new potato-chip flavor that he or she inspires.
In its "Do Us a Flavor" campaign headlined by actress and restauranteur Eva Longoria and Food Network Iron Chef Michael Symon, the PepsiCo unit invites fans to submit their potato-chip flavor ideas via a Facebook app for a chance to win $1 million in grand-prize money — or one percent of their flavor's 2013 net sales, whichever is higher.
"We [already] have a lot of flavors that would make the one-percent option a bigger payout than the $1 million," Ram Krishnan, Frito-Lay's vice president of marketing, told brandchannel. "We're opening it up so that consumers can have a winning proposition."
To launch the effort, Lay's is opening its first-ever pop-up store in New York's Times Square today, inviting the public to sample up to 20 existing Lay's flavors with Longoria and Symon on hand for photo opps.
The celebrity duo also will be members of a judging panel made up of what Frito-Lay called "chefs, foodies and flavor experts" who will narrow the flavor submissions to a final three, and they'll appear in national TV and online advertising to support the promotion.
Frito-Lay has held a "Do Us a Flavor" contest in more than a dozen other countries, with consumers suggesting nearly eight million ideas for chips flavors to date. Out of them, Frito-Lay ended up creating flavors such as Mastana Mango, Caesar Salad and Late Night Kebob. The brand waited until now to launch the contest in the U.S., Krishnan said, because 2013, when it culminates, will be the 75th anniversary of the Dallas-based brand.
Another innovative aspect of the promotion (running now through Oct. 6) is that it will utilize a technique by Facebook for deepening fans' involvement with a brand. On the brand's Facebook page, Frito-Lay has worked with the social-media networking site to allow consumers to select their favorite flavors for the promotion by clicking an "I'd Eat That" button rather than the typical Facebook "Like" button.
It's the latest of just a few examples of this kind of departure for Facebook, and Frito-Lay is happy to test Facebook customization. "The whole reason for this promotion is you want people to eat the flavors, and I actually think this ['I'd Eat That' button] will resonate very well," Krishnan said. "It's got talk value and sharability."
Suggestions can also be submitted by texting FLAVOR to CHIPS (24477). To submit a suggestion, fans are being asked to suggest a flavor name, up to three possible ingredients and a 140-character description or inspiration for their flavor — and to have patience with technical strains on the app, with a huge volume of suggestions vying for the $1 million prize on day one of the contest.
More information in Frito-Lay's press release, the Facebook app FAQ and in the video below.
Update: Lay's shared a photo of the Times Square #DoUsaFlavor kick-off on its Twitter feed:
And here's Longoria and Symon at the Times Square pop-up (Photo credit: Diane Bondareff/Invision for Frito-Lay)