Exclusive: Frito Lay talks Doritos ‘Viralocity’

The company reveals details and media plans for this year's big contest.

Mississauga, ON-based Frito Lay Canada is once again asking consumers to name a new flavour of tortilla chip and create a video about it, but don’t call this year’s ‘Viralocity’ program the second ‘Guru.’

‘You’ve got the classic sophomore curse – you’ve broken all this new ground; it’s very easy to say ‘how do we do Guru 2?” says Tony Matta, VP marketing for Frito Lay Canada. ‘Thankfully the idea that came back was not ‘Guru 2.’ It had some similar components that I think are slowly becoming part of the brand’s DNA, but it’s really a different approach to what this program could look like.’

Working with AOR BBDO and Proximity, the insight was around the concept of a ‘digital footprint’ – while Gen-Xers’ societal footprint is based on personal interaction, the younger 13- to 24-year-old generation is based on digital interactions, Matta explains. To quantify that, Frito developed an algorithm that could measure a digital footprint by aggregating all of their online activity wherever they’re active – Facebook, YouTube, blogs, etc. – and track the number of views, shares, favourites and embeds.

The consumer enters the contest by creating a 60-second video and is awarded points based on the level of activity around it and how much their video spreads. The point system is laid out on Doritos.ca – it’s transparent, so participants can continuously see where they rank and where the points are coming from. To add an extra element of fun, Frito has even thrown in points for factors such as ‘exotic referring countries’ if you can spread your video beyond Canadian borders.

‘There’s no one out there today doing anything like this to this kind of scale, that we know of,’ says Matta. ‘Ultimately, we want to help somebody become the most viral person in the world.’

The grand prize is $100,000, plus another $150,000 if the winner reaches ‘Maximum Viralocity’ (10 million points). There are also a slew of secondary prizes that range from $25 to $15,000 – 344 people in total will receive a cash prize, providing the incentive to keep reaching higher, even if you’re not at the top, explains Matta.

Frito also set out to go beyond ‘Guru’ with the media plan, explains Dan Boem, group director of strategy at OMD, Frito’s Canadian MAOR: ‘It’s really co-creating. The partners came to the table with BBDO and Proximity and ourselves and actually helped create some of the content, even some of the branded spots, which we didn’t do last year, so it’s another level. It’s about blurring that line between media and creative.’

Frito has taken its partnership with French comedy series Têtes à claques a step further. While last year they ran one spot featuring their ‘Uncle Tom’ character, this year TAC will create three English spots and three French spots to be rolled out on the website during the program.

They’re also taking their relationship with MuchMusic to the next level by having Boomer from MuchOnDemand become a ‘brand ambassador,’ with one-minute scripted pieces that BBDO created with Much.

And for the unveiling of the winners, Frito has purchased all 12 minutes of commercial time during MOD to create an Oscars-like award show that will showcase not just the grand prize winner, but several winners in different categories.

While last year they invited MusiquePlus to Much to cover the winner announcement, this year they’ll have a separate awards show on the French channel that will focus more on winners from Quebec. In another first, MusiquePlus will spread ‘Viralocity’ across four shows, building it into the scripts and having  hosts appear on each other’s shows to talk about the campaign.

‘It’s seamlessly integrated into each of the shows, and that’s never been done before, where they integrated four shows relevant to our target and taken our concept and spread it,’ says Boem.

After the Super Bowl ads aired, Doritos was present on websites where football fans would go to get info about the game, with page dominations on Yahoo and YouTube. It’s also advertising on sites frequented by the target, such as Facebook, Break.ca, Google, Maxim and Vervegirl, as well as buys on MuchMusic and MusiquePlus sites.

Working with Microsoft-owned video game ad network Massive, ‘Viralocity’ ads will also be seen in 21 different Xbox 360 games, such as Band Hero, Tony Hawk Ride and Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen.

This year’s six TV spots – two of which aired during the Super Bowl, with other airing on CTV shows such as Vampire Diaries and American Idol – will focus on the consumers and a behind-the-scenes look at their video process. And to truly bring the consumer in on it, one spot will be created by Ryan Coopersmith, who won ‘Guru’ last year with his production crew Boo Ya Pictures.

Rounding out the promotion is in-store POS, PR activity by Fleishman-Hillard and a new, gold, unbranded bag with a dollar sign studded with diamonds.

‘It’s about putting some bling on the bag,’ says Matta. ‘It’s a bling contest.’

The contest opens on Feb. 14 with submissions closing on March 21. Contestants will then have 10 additional days to spread their videos, and the winner will be announced April 1.