(USA TODAY by Bruce Horovitz)In social-media marketing lingo, it's called crowd sourcing. For a Facebook-obsessed society, it's all about letting the crowd create - and pick - the Next Big Thing. Think of it as an online group-think followed by a social-media vote.
The latest entrant: Lay's. The world's biggest food brand will announce on Friday plans to cook one consumer's recipe into a potato chip and pay $1 million for it - or 1% of the flavor's net sales in 2013. It's the winner's choice
In, perhaps, the ultimate crowd-sourcing stunt, the soon-to-be-wealthy winner will be selected by a Facebook vote. While Lay's is hardly the first marketer to embrace crowd sourcing, it's got an ultra-big bounty with its "Do Us a Flavor" promo.
"Social media is at its most powerful when a brand gives the reins over to consumers in an authentic way," says Peter Madden, a brand consultant. He suggests that Lay's go one step further and that consumers not only create and name the chip - but design the bag, too.
In other recent crowd-sourcing promos, Samuel Adamsasked consumers to create a crowd-sourced beer; Arizona Iced Tea is prodding the public to create its next flavor. Outside the U.S., McDonald's has crowd-sourced burger recipes.
For its part, Lay's has run create-a-chip contests outside the U.S. These resulted in Caesar-salad-flavored chips in Australia, shrimp chips in Egypt and sausage-flavored chips in Poland.
Now, the crowd-sourcing promo is coming to the U.S. This one, decided by Facebook votes, will be the largest promotion in Lay's 75-year history, says Ram Krishnan, vice president of marketing at Frito-Lay: "I fully expect this to get us into a different flavor category."
Facebook is bending its rules for this promo. For the first time, Facebook's familiar "like" button will be replaced with an "I'd Eat That" button for the contest in head-to-head flavor showdowns.
Lay's will select three finalists - all of which will be developed into flavors and sold in early 2013. Then, a Facebook consumer vote will decide which flavor rules.
But don't think you're being original if you suggest pickled cucumber. It already won last year - in Serbia.