The “Maple Moose” flavour begged to be selected from the shelf of chips, if for no other reason than the name, and the promise of a great photo-op, along with a Molson Canadian beer in hand, for my visiting American relatives at the cottage.
Maple Moose was one of four finalists in Lay’s Canada’s “Do Us a Flavour” chip naming contest. While there were over 600,000 entries, the final four have come down to: Creamy Garlic Caesar (Jill Munro, Vancouver), Grilled Cheese and Ketchup (Angela Batley, Ottawa), Perogy Platter (Lucas Crawford, Edmonton), and Maple Moose (Tyler LeFrense, St Johns, NL). Each of the four finalists have received $5,000 and are now in the running for the top prize of $50,000 plus 1% of future sales, should their flavour be selected. While the final four were chosen in April, their announcement, actual execution of flavour and packaging were launched just prior to the August long weekend. Voting will be open until October 16, and feedback is encouraged on the lays.ca/flavour Facebook page. In addition to a heavy online publicity component, harnessing social media and the personal connections of those who want to win, the campaign will also utilized in store displays, as well as print, radio, TV and billboards concentrated in regions where the four finalists hail from – urging Canadians to vote for their favourite, or support their local entry. Finalists will also received election style yard signs, to distribute in their local areas as a unique out of home advertising component.
So why is this a great marketing campaign?
1. The contest makes it interactive. Votes can be registered on the Facebook page or by texting. In addition to a vote, comments and feedback on the flavours are encouraged.
2. The four contestants will use their social media circles to spread the word. That’s free and authentic endorsement by brand advocates. A quick check of the four finalists shows a pretty impressive online reach with activity taking place on Facebook, Instigram, Twitter, Youtube and LinkedIn. That’s not counting the exponential reach of friends of friends on all these platforms. The word of mouth online is heavily littered with #hashtags to channel the content and make it searchable.
3. The contest encourages trial. And trial increases sales. While some consumers may buy more chips as an add-on purchase, or try something new, others will buy all four to genuinely run their own tastes test, vote and have an opinion to share online. In the process they are likely to tell others and the trial purchases and increased sales will continue.
4. At least one of the crazy flavour names invites talk and word of mouth. Maple Moose is a “sticky” word that begs conversation. Just what would it taste like? Plus it hits on the “cool factor of Canadiana” that other brands such as Tim Hortons and Canadian Tire have tapped so well post 2010 Winter Olympics. Maple Moose screams Canadian, and I’m willing to bet it was especially popular in cottage country tourist areas with lots of Americans during the summer.
5. The four finalists are from NL, ON, AB and BC making it regionally diverse and a Canada wide campaign. This was critical for it to be a national sales boosting success. Indeed it does beg the question though, was that part of the criteria, in addition to a great flavour name and the social media influence of the finalists? While it’s pure speculation on my part, the necessity for a localized campaign, and the requirement for a French language component and the resulting additional expense, might also explain the absence of “poutine” flavour making the final four, which was lamented by many online for not being selected.
6. By encouraging comments, both good and bad about the flavours online, the company is allowing customers a voice. Lay’s appears transparent in the process, willing to take a hit in public, which actually humanizes them. Indeed there are some nasty comments made about some of the flavours, and some have observed that the contest is just a clever ploy to boost sales. Lay’s has not filtered or deleted anything. It’s a page right out of the very successful McDonald’s “Our food, your questions” campaign.
7. The campaign harnesses a seamless integration of online social media and traditional print, TV, radio, out of home, and a heavy dose of publicity. It’s a great example of using the right tool for the right job at various stages of the campaign. While it would have been easy to focus efforts primarily online and generating publicity, the campaign recognizes the power, reach and influence of a variety of well selected traditional media vehicles to reach a broad audience.
8. It boosts sales in a mature and competitive category. Short of introducing new flavours, new packaging, new pricing and distribution, the options are limited for increasing sales in a mature competitive category. Companies need to get creative. This contest is a brilliant spin on the usual approach of “new” or “improved.”
So what was my American relatives verdict on the Maple Moose flavour? They liked it for the most part, and they loved the packaging. We all agreed it tasted a bit like “All Dressed” in terms of flavour, with a dose of sweet added to the savory, although it was a bit smoky and there was an after-taste that took away from the initial likeability of it. I’m yet to try the other three, but my kids are begging me to buy them for our own taste test. If we’re indicative of other consumers, Lay’s gross sales are increasing. Who do I think will win? That all depends if it becomes a name and branding contest, or a genuine desirable flavour vote. If it’s all about the name, branding, word of mouth and stickability of something to vote for – I’m with the Maple Moose. That’s why I pulled it off the shelf initially ahead of the others. However, my local Vancouver gal is Jill Munro, with her entry Creamy Garlic Caesar. I have to admit it sounds pretty good. And her campaign is ramping up nicely locally with an interview on Virgin Radio recently, a CBC feature, and billboards and ads starting to appear in my market. Jill is also pretty active online in social media. I guess we’ll all have to wait until after October 16 when the final votes have been tallied.
So what do you think of this campaign? If you’ve seen the flavours promoted, have you tried them or bought more? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.