When Developing Consumer Contests, Simple is Often Best

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While working on a project a couple of weeks ago with a long-time colleague, he reminded me of something I’ve been known to say, “Sometimes, we can take the simplest idea and make it complicated.”

That seems to be somewhat of an epidemic in the communications disciplines. As practitioners, how often have we been in brainstorms or strategy sessions and see a simple, elegant idea rendered unrecognizable by heaping a bunch of ancillary “stuff” on it? This can be particularly problematic when developing consumer contests, sweepstakes and promotions. If the contest has too many rules and regulations and is too difficult to comprehend and enter, consumers may stay away.

Simple shouldn’t be confused with easy. Developing and implementing contests may require the integration of many different disciplines, including public relations, advertising and social media. But at their core, the best contests are usually the simplest ones. In celebration of simplicity, I offer up two recent consumer contests that took the simple idea route to achieve big results.

Esurance

#EsuranceSave30 Super Bowl Campaign  

The concept was simplicity at its finest. Buy the first ad to air right after the Super Bowl. Save $1.5 million in the process. Get John Krasinski, star of “The Office” and Esurance’s voiceover talent since 2012, to appear on camera in the ad sitting in a living room with chips, salsa and guacamole on a coffee table made out of 1.5 million smackers. Give viewers 36 hours to tweet #EsuranceSave30 for a chance to win the cash. Have Krasinski unveil the winner on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” three days later.

The social media buzz that was created was nothing short of astounding. According to Leo Burnett, the ad agency responsible for the TV spot, the campaign yield the following results:

And one lucky football fan won $1.5 million. Not too shabby. In the words of AdWeek, “cue the copycats.”

 Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor”

Do Us A FlavorLay’s, one of the world’s most popular potato chip brands, was starting to lose favor with U.S. Millennials, who were opting for competitors with funkier flavors. Simple solution. In 2012, the brand created a crowdsourcing “Do Us A Flavor” contest via a Facebook app, inviting fans to submit their ideas for the next great potato chip flavor for the chance to win $1 million. The campaign was implemented with public relations from Ketchum and national advertising by Energy BBDO.

Cheesy Garlic Bread, Chicken and Waffles and Sriracha flavored chips were selected as finalists, and brought to store shelves, giving consumers the opportunity to taste the finalists, and ultimately decide the winner. In May 2013, Cheesy Garlic Bread was announced as America’s favorite, and the consumer behind the winning idea, took home a cool $1 million grand prize.

The results of the campaign were impressive. Within the first week of the campaign, PR generated 1,500 media placements. In the end, the contest generated 3.8 million submissions, nearly 5 billion PR impressions, more than a billion Facebook impressions and a 12 percent increase in sales.

I still think Sriracha should have won.

Lay’s is back at it again this year, with a more complex version of the contest. This time, fans can create a flavor for Lay’s Original, Lay’s Kettle Cooked and/or Lay’s Wavy. Through April 5, fans can submit their flavor suggestions on www.dousaflavor.com, through Twitter, on www.YouTube.com/Lays, through the Lay’s Facebook Page or via their cell phones. Consumers’ familarity with the contest the second time around could be the reason for some unusual flavor suggestions, including “toothpaste and orange juice” and “regret.” Exactly what does regret taste like? It’s got to leave a bad after taste.

The moral of the story: Keep your consumer contests simple. Having a big cash prize doesn’t hurt either.

 

 

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