Why Lay’s ‘Do Us a Flavor’ was a Perfect Sweepstakes

6 min read

Over the past few years, famous snack food magicians (yes, I’m calling them magicians), Frito-Lay, have been hosting their “Do Us a Flavor” sweepstakes. The “Do Us a Flavor” sweepstakes is a competition where junk food connoisseurs (like moi) get to come up with all sorts of crazy, kooky potato chip flavors with the hope of winning a grand prize of $1,000,000 and, of course, creating a whole new potato chip flavor that’ll eventually be sold in stores nationwide!


Now, you’re probably curious to know why the heck I’m talking about a silly potato chip contest on a marketing technology blog. It’s simple, really. As marketers, there’s a whole lot that we can learn from the way Frito-Lay facilitated the sweepstakes and how they promoted it. The level of engagement from the sweepstakes was so intense, that the “Do Us a Flavor” competition has since become a mainstay for the Frito-Lay brand; making it something folks look forward to every year.


So, that leaves one question remaining. Why IS Frito-Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” sweepstakes a perfect one of its kind?

Consumers Are the Key Decision Makers

At the very beginning of the contest, consumers are given the fun opportunity to truly engage with the Frito-Lay’s brand by customizing their own potato chip flavor. Consumers can visit dousaflavor.com (at the beginning of the competition) and choose from a crazy extensive list of ingredients – some perfectly normal and some NOT so normal (Haggis flavored chips? Sure, why not!). Once consumers are done creating their chip flavors, they can then go vote for some of their favorite user-generated flavors. At the end of the first stage, the votes are tallied up and 3 finalists are selected – but that’s not what makes this contest extra special.


What makes this contest EXTRA special is that those 3 finalists actually have their chip flavors manufactured and then consumers have the opportunity to buy these chip flavors and cast their final vote for which chip will be the new permanent fixture in the Lay’s potato chip family. Not only are consumers actively engaging with the brand when they enter the competition and vote, Frito-Lay is immediately profiting (from additional potato chip sales) before the competition even ends.



Additionally, all the data that comes from the potato chip customizer (and from the votes) gives Frito-Lay an exceptionally clear idea of who their customers are and what they actually want. It’s a win-win for both sides. Consumers have fun providing their input (and tasting new products); while Frito-Lay collects important consumer data and makes money in the process.

It’s an Annual Sweepstakes

If consumers are anything like myself, they’re super bummed when they don’t place or win a competition. Seemingly, the fun is over and that’s that. There are no more chances to win. Luckily, the “Do Us a Flavor” sweepstakes is annual, so that means there are several chances to win. By holding the contest annually, it gives consumers something to look forward to (“I might win next year” or “Ooh! There will be more potato chip flavors!”), thus giving consumers a reason to continue actively engaging with the Frito-Lay brand. This means consumers will be more likely to sign up for newsletters, follow social media pages or keep buying Frito-Lay products to ensure they’re not missing any news on the sweepstakes. Potato chip flavor ideas are practically limitless. It would be silly to make the sweepstakes a one-time thing.

The Winners are REAL

Aside from being a fun competition, one of the main reasons for this sweepstakes’ sustainability is the fact that Frito-Lay has REAL winners and they showcase them (yes, finalists too!) wherever they possibly can – on Facebook, Twitter, their blog, and naturally, the potato chip packaging itself. For the finalists, Frito-Lay lists off their name, as well as their general location. And as far as the actual sweepstakes winners go, photos are taken of the winner and press releases are written so that national publications and local news outlets (Here’s coverage from 2013 and 2014) are able to cover the story (which only further increases the contest’s legitimacy). It’s also worth mentioning that Frito-Lay will always choose a grand prize winner and, more importantly, create an awesome new potato chip flavor.


UPDATE – 10/21/2015: Noblesville, IN resident, Hailey Green, wins Lay’s 2015 “Do Us A Flavor” Contest for her chip entry “Southern Biscuits & Gravy!” Congrats, Hailey!