At some point, you’d think brands would have learned a very important, almost painfully commonsense lesson about the internet: If you put your trust in random strangers online, you will be rewarded with reactions ranging from benign to horrific and everywhere in between.
Remember when England’s National Environment Research Council asked the internet to come up with and vote for a name for their polar research ship and ended up with “Boaty McBoatface?” While that moniker was eventually amended to the RRS Sir David Attenborough, if you think there was some sort of takeaway from that debacle, you’d be wrong. There was the zoo that, when asking Twitter to name a baby gorilla, garnered a tidal wave of “Harambes” and “Harambe Juniors.” And before these blunders, we had a Mountain Dew pizza restaurant naming a drink “Diabeetus” and a couple of new parents coming away from a baby-naming poll with “Cthulu All-Spark.” Clearly, it’s going to take some time, some total catastrophe, or both to knock some sense into marketers’ brains.
The latest iteration of this genius marketing stunt? Lay’s potato chips recently asked the online world to come up with new flavors of the classic snack—their campaign was called “Do Us A Flavor.” Naturally, the 4chan crowd didn’t disappoint:
These chips really speak to me.
The rest of the efforts are equally genius.
You know what? Who knows—maybe this is exactly what these companies are going for. These kinds of snafus generate tons of hilarious buzz that, in the long-term, seems to relatively harmless for the brands themselves. This could very well be a bit of legitimately prescient marketing insight.
But for now, it’s just as convenient—and much more fun—to think of this kind of situation as a brand getting its just desserts from a function of the internet over which communities like 4chan and reddit reign supreme.