The Internet is a buzz over the best Super Bowl ads. Among all this big budget branding, Lay’s pulled off a viral marketing success story with Football fans will eat approximately 11 million pounds of chips during the game. To make sure Lay’s brand gets a piece of that chip binge, they launched an interactive website where users created and named their own flavor. The person who dreams up the tastiest chip wins $1 million dollars.

There are three components that made this viral marketing campaign a success:

  1. User engagement
  2. Lead capture
  3. Easy social sharing

User Engagement

Getting your users to engage with your brand sets the groundwork for successful viral marketing. It elevates your brand out of the Internet surfing background noise. Lay’s engages your attention by having the user create a name for their flavor. As you’ll see later on, the names they came up with became the key to social sharing.

lays viral marketing name chip

The next step relies on the user’s creativity to come up with a new combination of flavors. At this point you’ve hooked the person. They are now invested in the process. That casual visitor has gone out of curious surfer mode and potato chips are now at the forefront of their attention.

TV advertisers spend over half a million dollars for 30 seconds of passive branding. From an advertising perspective, Lay’s is getting a heck of a bargain for a much deeper experience with customers.

lays viral marketing select ingredients


Lead Capture

Incorporating the chance to win a million dollars incentives people to gladly provide their contact information. Not only are they getting a name and an email, they also get state and age demographic information.

lays viral marketing lead caputre demographics

By data mining the web server logs, they can determine a user’s:

  • City
  • OS
  • Browser

Additionally, that email can be used to find their social media profiles. I’m not implying that they are but it’s possible.

Pulling all that data together can identify taste trends by geographic location. For example, if you see a high concentration of vinegar and oil combinations in Boise, Idaho, that information can be used to increase stock of that type flavor in their market.

Social Sharing for Maximum Virality

Lay’s incorporated social sharing specifically to give it a viral boost. For example, the user must compose a tweet about their new flavor with suggested hastags in order to proceed to the contest entry/lead capture form.

lays viral marketing tweet hashtag

The second instance of social sharing comes at the end. When a user has completed all the mandatory steps they are presented with a screen that includes a call to action and multiple social icons for easy sharing.

lays viral marketing social sharing

Viral Marketing Success Story

The net result is that the comical flavors the users created were widely shared. Two days before the Super Bowl, Reddit user TheIndicaProphecies submitted a Toothpaste and Orange Juice flavored chip that appeared as the number one post on the site. This post generated hundreds of comments on both Reddit and imgur.

lays viral marketing reddit

On February 2nd Mashable writer Laura Vitto also blogged about the many funny flavors users created.

lays google trends
Lay’s campaign was a viral success story. At a fraction of the cost of a Super Bowl ad, they were able to get significant exposure for their brand right before a major chip buying event. Well done Lay’s social team, well done.