Doritos is asking consumers to name its newest flavor in a sweepstakes that takes the brand’s consumer-content push to a new level.
The sweeps is part of a stealth sampling campaign called the Doritos Brand X-13D Flavor Experiment. The campaign asks consumers to taste Doritos’ newest flavor, then suggest a name and write an ad for it. Those who submit a name or ad are entered into the sweeps to become one of 100 Doritos Flavor Masters.
This campaign differs from Doritos’ Super Bowl ad contest because it’s a random-draw sweeps, and entries aren’t judged on content. Frito-Lay retains the rights to use any of the names submitted, but it doesn’t promise that it will.
In fact, Frito-Lay will pull X-13D off shelves once the sweepstakes ends, and has no big plans for a national launch with a new name, said Frito-Lay spokesperson Jared Doherty.
Still, the “experiment” extends Doritos’ strategy of consumer-generated marketing, which began last September with the contest that aired the winning ad during the Super Bowl. Then in February, Frito-Lay began showing the four finalist ads as sole TV support for Doritos. In March, the brand fielded a taste competition that asked consumers to vote for one of two flavors. The winner, Smokin’ Cheddar Barbecue, stayed on shelf; the loser, Wild White Nacho, got pulled.
With X-13D, “we wanted to just put this flavor out there and see what people had to say about it,” Doherty said. “It’s in line with the idea of consumer control. It’s all about consumer engagement.”
The X-13D chips, packaged in a black bag with a label that looks like it’s lifted from a science lab, quietly moved onto some store shelves in early May to build buzz, then rolled out nationally the third week of May, with no support other than the packaging itself. The sweeps broke online on May 13, and has already pulled in 100,000 entries.
One hundred grand-prize winners get the chance to take part in Doritos R&D, giving feedback on future flavor ideas. Each also gets a year’s supply of Doritos, 52 coupons good for one bag per week.
The sweepstakes runs through July 14. Consumers enter online at Doritos’ own site, SnackStrongProductions.com, or via text message (by texting “X-13D” to shortcode 24477, or “CHIPS”). Doritos’ ad agency, Goodby Silverstein & Partners, handles the campaign.
X-13D’s launch has sparked considerable chatter online as bloggers write about stumbling upon the distinctive bag in convenience stores, and chat sites tackle the question of what the flavor really is. (The frontrunner so far: cheeseburger.) Some complain that the flavor tastes awful; one wag named it “Barbecue Ketchup Foot.”
The dedicated Web site includes a “clue generator” game that lets players sort and process “cheese” shapes into a machine in order to earn clues about the X-13D’s ingredients. An “ad generator” shows two TV spots that don’t have any dialogue. The characters just say “blah blah blah” the whole way through. Consumers submit dialogue to “create” their own ads.
Store sales of flagship Doritos chips were $691 million for 52 weeks ended May 20, up 6.5% from the same period the year before, according to Information Resources Inc. Flanker brands haven’t done as well: Baked Doritos were down 29% to $17.6 million, and Doritos Light fell 41% to $6.6 million, IRI reports. The brand’s health-conscious 100-calorie pack hit sales of $13 million, up 651% in food, drug and mass outlets. IRI data does not include vending or c-store sales, important outlets for Doritos.