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Cat's Out of the Bag in Lay's Crowdsourced Chip-Flavor Contest

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Did Lay's scoop its own Facebook page?

Hyping its popular consumers-choose-the-next-flavor contest, the Lay's today on Facebook is still shrouding the promotion in mystery. Three bags of chips are shown labeled with question marks next to a tease that promises the finalists will be announced in "1 More Day."

But while fans waited on Facebook, TV viewers got the scoop earlier today. A trio of finalists appeared on "Good Morning America," plugging their flavors: Chicken & Waffles, Cheesy Garlic Bread and Sriracha, according to this ABC News blog post.

The lack in coordinated planning has many fans on Facebook -- where Lay's has 5.89 million likes on its official page, many of them which have submitted potential flavors for the contest -- positively miffed.

Said one: "Someone tell me why a big corp like Lay's would allow their social media to be behind the news!? And sadly there are still people on here that think they may be the winners! Think Lay's needs to fix this."

Another fan grumbled: "what the????????// Does Lay's even read our comments. It [keeps on] posting days while people are confused about the 3 winning flavors. Is this is how Lay's treats their fans!" A third fan wanted action: "You should fire your social media director!"

In other words, old media beat new media to the news.

Asked why the Facebook page was not synced with the TV reveal, a spokeswoman told Ad Age in an email that "our official announcement takes place tomorrow morning, which is why the Facebook page encourages consumers to stay tuned for Tuesday."

Unless, of course, they simply read some of the comments on the brand's own Facebook page that link to stories across the web referencing the "Good Morning America" reveal.

The three finalists' flavors will hit stores soon for a limited time, with fans choosing a winning flavor that will be revealed in May. The prize is $1 million, or 1% of the 2013 net sales of the winning flavor, whichever is greatest.

Lay's, which bills itself as the world's largest food brand, has already held the contest in several markets overseas in recent years. As Ad Age reported a few months ago, China saw a big launch with the introduction of "Pepsi-Cola Chicken" flavor chips, mimicking a popular Chinese dish. It was a much bigger launch than for any previous Lay's flavor in China, which include such unusual flavors as lemon tea (subtle), cucumber (cloying) and hot-and-sour fish soup (fishy). The TV ad campaign for the Pepsi Cola-Chicken chips played a joke on viewers, starting out like a Pepsi ad, with a guy rushing out to buy cola for his girlfriend -- not to drink, it turned out, but to use to cook chicken.

Here's a full list of what won elsewhere:

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