Last year, Lay’s ran a very successful campaign called “Do Us a Flavor” where fans of the brand could log into a special web site and propose new potato chip flavors to the company. Users voted on the flavors and the top three vote getters, Chicken and Waffles, Sriracha, and Cheesy Garlic bread, were put into production. The winning flavors also won their creators cash prizes. With the success of the campaign, Lay’s brought “Do Us a Flavor” back in 2014 with a beefed up website with even more customization options allowing users to propose all kinds of crazy flavors like Beef Stew! Pizza and Wings! Kitten!
That’s right, Kitten. Left to their own devices and given a very robust customization tool, the majority of visitors to the “Do Us a Flavor” website created chips that may actually taste good like Thanksgiving Dinner or Guacamole. A small minority took the website to it’s logical conclusion and created some truly incredible, impossible flavors including the aforementioned “Kitten,” “Despair,” and my favorite “Blood of My Enemies.”
On the surface, it’s easy to say that Lay’s lost control of this campaign. The intention is for users to propose really delicious flavors that might be a little out of the box. If a user proposes “Hamsters, Lemons, and Thumbtacks” then they aren’t really playing the game the way they are supposed to, are they? In some ways, aren’t they making a mockery of Lay’s?
It may seem that way, but by creating a tool that drives user content, and giving their users complete freedom to do just about anything they want, even if it’s something that might make Lay’s executives a little uncomfortable, Lay’s is living out the old marketing adage “your fans own your brand.” Lay’s is literally letting their users own their brand, even if users do something that Lay’s might not necessarily choose to do with their own brand. Plus, most of these users are having fun. This allows Lay’s to show that they aren’t just a stodgy old company that only cares about the bottom line.
Looking for more examples of brand embracing crazy user-generated content? Check out how Amazon reclaimed traffic by highlighting some of their funniest user reviews. The recent use of influencer marketing by Air France is another case study in user generated content.