How Lay's Is Tapping Its Audience For Its Next Big Chip Idea

Lay’s wants your million-dollar flavor.

Cajun Squirrel potato chips anyone? Improbable (and unappealing) as it sounds, someone actually suggested Cajun Squirrel as a new flavor for Lay’s potato chips in England last year. The suggestion was a finalist, although not the winner, of the first "Do Me a Flavor" contest run by Lay’s which invited consumers to create a new Lay’s chip flavor. The chip giant has run flavor naming and defining contests in 15 countries since 2008. A 2012 contest in Thailand produced Spicy Crab. Australia voted in Classic Caesar Salad. But until now, Lay’s has never done such a campaign in the chip’s home country, the USA. The novel campaign comes as Lay’s Potato Chips gets ready to celebrate its 75th birthday next year.

Between now and October, consumers are welcome to go online and propose a flavor. To do that, consumers need to select three ingredients, name the flavor, and write a 140 character description of the flavor that might act as a first draft of marketing copy. Three finalist flavors will be selected in early 2013 and launched into market. After several months, the public will vote on the winning flavor which will be announced next May. The flavor will get a permanent place on Lay’s chip roster. Helping to select the finalists will be a judging panel including actress Eva Longoria, who also owns a restaurant, Beso, in Los Angeles, and Midwest James Beard award winning chef, Michael Symon.

Both Longoria and Symon have also signed on as spokespeople for the campaign and are appearing in ads that began running this month. The winning chipmaker will earn a $1 million prize or 1% of the 2013 net sales of the chip, whichever is higher. It’s a big commitment for Lay’s but Ann Mukherjee the Chief Marketing Officer of Lay’s parent company Frito-Lay says, "If this does that well, it’s more than worth it." Mukherjee notes that flavor selection is a perfect fit for Lay’s because the company has long included consumers in its flavor development process at every step of the process from idea to taste-testing.

But how exactly can a member of the public create a chip flavor? One place to look to get your creative juices going is Facebook. There, consumers can use a "flavorizer" feature inside the Do Me A Flavor contest app, which searches your timeline and suggests flavors and cuisine styles based on restaurants you have attended recently. For instance if you went to a French restaurant this month, the flavorizer might suggest bouillabaisse; if you’ve indicated that you like steakhouses, the tool might suggest a meat-oriented flavor. Lay’s has also worked with Facebook to create a modified version of the Like button called the "I’d Eat that" Button. "There’s a big difference between liking something and wanting to eat it. We wanted something really visceral so people could get excited right away," says Mukherjee. The Facebook app was so popular that it crashed the first day it was available.

Earlier this month Lay’s launched the USA "Do Me a Flavor" contest with a pop-up store in New York’s Times Square that showcased all the past winning flavors from around the world. Mukherjee felt that the pop up store was a perfect way to celebrate the global nature of Lay’s. Most of those flavors will never appear in the United States for a host of reasons, including different palates among people in different regions, differences in food regulations from county to country, and the locally sourced nature of many of the flavors. "When people think of Lay’s they think America, but actually we have some of our strongest audiences around the world," Mukherjee says, "but there are no borders anymore, we all know that. The world is global. Everyone knows that. The same is true for the potato chip."

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  • Kimberly Stratton

    How do I get my chips to be voted on by the public. I have created over 50 chips and it always says my chip has not been seen by the public yet, but to continue creating more chips. I'm frustrated as I want to see my chip in the Montana lists of submissions. I go through my face book and it always recognizes me when I'm on the page where I create my chips. Confused. Do they need to approve my chips before they are listed to the public? How do I know if this is real and my chips truly get to be a part of the contest or not? Kimberly Stratton Montana

  • Kimberly Stratton

    I have entered through face book and the do us a to create over 50 chips, but they always say your chips have not been seen by the public yet, so continue to create more chips. I have zero votes on all of them. How do I get them to be voted on and in the Montana listings so I can see my chips I have created? Do they need voted on by the lays company and only submitted if the company likes my ideas? Frustrated. Kimberly Stratton Montana.

  • Jeanette Valentino

    Being that the contest has started for a flavor; I have an idea that would make the new flavor even, more inticing.  If interested in a whole new look for the new flavor contact me.  at  mommavalentino@century I've been testing this on friends and family.  Thank you for your time  Jeanette Valentino 

  • Alilian

    why is face book the way to enter. I called the company they told me to text them and they would sent me a responce. Hasen't happened yet must be to many to respond.

  • Madelyn Grant

    McCormick   Pot Roast in A bag    The seasonings in this packet are so tasty. Try theses seasonings on a chip. Very Tasty. Good on a roast.
    MYG INC - 832 660-2473

  • Madelyn Grant

    Mc Cormick Seasonings - Roast in a bag seasonings -
    I eat this at home
    Pot Roast the seaonings are so tasty that when you  prepare the Roast in a bag some one is trying to get to the seaonings bag to get that taste that is left. umm umm good 
    Take those seasonings and put on chips A Ha. Very Tasty and good.
    Madelyn Yvonne Grant
    713 239 4435

  • Becky,Robbins Newkent,Va

    The only thing wrong with this contest is the waiting. I wish you could get some type of confirmation that your submissions were received. There is one flavor that I submitted that is simple .When I am having a sandwich I sure wish For some Celery and Bleu Cheese Lays.I have looked in stores and on line and I have not found such chip. I did notice that Herrs has a flavors like hot dog, steak. tabasco sauce,and a lot of others new flavors. Becky Robbins 09-05-2012 

  • mary dillard

    veggie and herbs or just veggie lays chips now that sounds good ,not too thick and not too thin ,they are bake and healthy for everone too enjoyed  written by mary dillard

  • Brennywh

    I have been trying to put my flavors in on this app and I cannot get into it.  This is very aggravating!  Why do they put a contest out there and then no one can access it?  How do I get my entry in?

  • Fredawhite31


  • Kpdives

     you may not be seeing the whole screen including the enter button. hold down your control button and then tap the - key and you will be able to see more of the screen, do it 1 more time if you need to zoom out even more. and then vote for Hashbrowns and Tabasco flavored chips and Garlic Smoked flavored chips.

  • maxine

    It is truly sad , you may have a winning idea, and you can't use the dumb app. lays you have a million dollar contest going on and can't do any better then that.