- Frito-Lay brand Lay's has placed the fate of one potato named Spud into the hands of its followers ahead of National Potato Day on Aug. 19, according to details shared with Marketing Dive.
- Fans can determine Spud's fate on Monday by using one of two hashtags on Twitter. If #SaveSpud sees more shares, the potato will be spared. But if #SizzleSpud prevails, he will become a Lay's potato chip, a fate the brand describes, ironically enough, as "every potato's dream."
- Lay's said it will randomly award potato-themed prizes to those who engage with the social media effort. Developed by Frito-Lay's internal creative team, the campaign includes paid and promoted posts on Twitter to raise awareness.
The Spud-focused social media push from Lay's continues the brand's efforts to offer consumers light-hearted, smile-inducing creative. The Twitter stunt around National Potato day follows the return of Lay's limited-run "Smiles" packaging that features the smiles of real people, a concept the snacks maker debuted last year.
Lay's claims its first "Smiles" effort led to 700 selfies posted per day of consumers with the brand's products, and a #SmileWithLays hashtag showed up in more than 30,000 tweets and 10,000 Instagram posts. The voting concept around Spud is a clear bid to drum up similar online engagement.
It's an approach other food marketers have adopted, either for campaigns timed around holidays, like Lay's, or to inform product decisions. Heinz last summer ran a Twitter poll asking followers whether it should introduce a ketchup-mayonnaise blend product. The campaign, created with agencies VML, Olson and Starcom, generated 2.4 billion impressions and lifted brand awareness for a regular mayonnaise offering Heinz was introducing at the time by 28%.
Older fans of Lay's will understand why the brand is leaning into smiles as it tries to extend good feelings to younger consumers who are more active on mobile and social media channels. In decade's past, Lay's commercials were best known for actor Bert Lahr's engaging smile as he happily declared that "no one can eat just one" of the chips.
But positivity-focused messaging from brands has grown as a trend overall amid sharp political divisions in the U.S. Alcohol brand Mike's Hard Lemonade earlier this year launched a campaign that blocks negative news and redirects consumers to positive stories. The effort included special newsstands and a pop-up experience in New York City.
Other chip brands are also aligning themselves with the latest online marketing trends to capture the interest of young consumers. Pringles this week signed on as an esports sponsor for the "League of Legends" European championship summer finals, with its cans offering a raffle code for various prizes.