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Coming To a Twitter Near You: Potato Chip Theater by Lay's

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Try acting out potato chip flavors, improvisational style, in front of thousands of social media followers. On Tuesday this will become the next career highlight -- or lowlight -- for Wayne Brady.

Wayne Brady
Fox
Wayne Brady

The celebrity entertainer known for his work on "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" is lending his acting talents to Lay's "Do Us a Flavor" contest in a real-time, social media video campaign.

The campaign will mark the beginning of the contest in which consumers are asked to submit flavor ideas for the brand. Last year the contest led to the permanent addition of Lay's Cheesy Garlic Bread to the brand's lineup, beating out finalists Chicken and Waffles and Sriracha.

From noon to 6 p.m eastern time on Jan. 14, Mr. Brady will turn consumer flavor submissions directed to Lay's Twitter handle into comedic sketches based only on the person's name, flavor idea, ingredients and inspiration. His potato chip theatrics will be filmed at a studio in Santa Monica, Calif. and then replayed back on the Lay's Twitter handle.

Big push
The idea is to generate more interest in the contest, which last year drew 3.8 million flavor submissions and 1.4 million votes on Facebook and Twitter, making it one of the biggest marketing pushes of the year for PepsiCo-owned Frito-Lay.

This year, Lay's has grown the contest to include Lay's Kettle Cooked and Lay's Wavy, in addition to Lay's Original. And instead of three finalists, the marketer will pick four. The winning flavor will be revealed in November, after the finalists hit store shelves this summer for a limited time. The grand prize is $1 million, or 1% of the flavor's net sales for the year-long period beginning in July, whichever is greater.

The prize was the same for last year's winner, Karen Weber-Mendham of Wisconsin, who walked away with the $1 million, rather than the 1% of sales, a Frito-Lay spokesman said. The company did not disclose sales figures for her Cheesy Garlic Bread flavor or the other finalists.

Pop-up store
The contest will be supported with TV and digital advertising by Energy BBDO and Deep Focus.

Advertising Age Player

Last year's contest was launched with a pop-up store in Times Square, in which the marketer displayed all 48 flavors of Lays in order to give consumers inspiration. Jennifer Saenz, Frito-Lay's senior director-marketing, said Lay's was satisfied with the interest the event got -- more than 10,000 people stopped by -- but was looking for more reach this year with the social-media stunt.

"We wanted to think of a way to launch the contest that actually touched the lives of more people," she said. "A way for us to do that was to take it away from a single-location event and turn it into to more of an online, social-virtual experience."

She promised that Mr. Brady would get "full creative control" on Tuesday. "Everything that he is putting out from a content perspective is happening real time, improv," she added. "Nothing is pre-prepared."

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