This summer, LAY’S became a regular (and unexpected) guest star on the 24th season of the popular Reality Television Show Big Brother after a series of unpaid appearances on the show. The brand was prominently featured in numerous episodes as this year’s crop of Houseguests couldn’t get enough of America’s favorite potato chip. One Houseguest in particular, Taylor Hale, took her love of LAY’S to a whole other level. In fact, LAY’S appeared to be a source of comfort for her as she navigated a rollercoaster of emotions. Whether she was in the diary room or lying out by the pool, Hale seemed to almost always have a bag of LAY’S in hand – and viewers took note, taking to Twitter to comment about it.
Game recognizes game and LAY’S immediately knew it had found its golden match in Hale. And so began the saltiest “showmance” in Big Brother history, as LAY’S tuned in to fuel fan conversation on Twitter and cheer on its chosen favorite. The results were nothing short of remarkable, with LAY’S solidifying its coveted place in culture, successfully delighting fans, and building a strong association with Hale - arguably the most successful Houseguest to ever play the game. Not only did she go on to win her season, but she also captured national headlines by becoming the first Black woman to win Big Brother as well as being crowned “America’s Favorite Player”, earning her the largest cash prize ever awarded on the long-running CBS series.
It all started with Social Listening. As Big Brother fans flocked to Twitter en masse to discuss Hale and her not so subtle love affair with LAY’S, our team couldn’t help but notice. Never one to sit on the sidelines, we jumped into action to enact a 3-point plan to fuel organic fandom and keep LAY’S top-of-mind over the must-win summer season.
Regular Season: Through a series of tweets and 1:1 consumer engagement, LAY’S “entered the chat” much to the delight of fans. The brand successfully hijacked the #BB24 conversation through playful banter and vocal support for Hale. The result was at-scale positive organic mentions of the brand on Twitter, the “second screen” of choice where fans converge to discuss all-things Big Brother. As Hale’s winning streak continued, fans even reported eating LAY’S at home alongside her in the hopes that they too might share in her good luck.
Finale Night: When Hale was confirmed as a top 2 finalist on the show, the team quickly pivoted to map out a series of pre-planned tweets and prepare for real-time conversation to capitalize on the major hype leading up to, during, and immediately following this crescendo moment. The results exceeded expectation, with the LAY’S x Taylor Hale showmance taking center stage. Following the end of the season, Hale’s fans refused to quit talking about LAY’S, campaigning on social for LAY’S to offer her a partnership.
Post-Season: Considering the strong results delivered in phases 1 and 2, the team knew we had something special on our hands. We worked to cultivate more cultural cache and attention for LAY’S by extending the conversation over the next several months. We achieved this by tapping into the unboxing trend to surprise and delight Hale with a custom LAY’S care package and free year’s supply of our irresistible potato chips. Next, we established a formal paid partnership, with the star announcing the news publicly by sharing a photo of herself holding a frame with a letter from the brand on one side, and a special bespoke version of a LAY’S bag on the other. The bag is black with gold features and has a gold sash printed on it that reads "Miss LAY’S Classic" in a nod to Hale's role as Miss Michigan USA 2021. Lastly, in response to fan requests to cast Hale in a ‘23 Super Bowl ad, the team did the next best thing by securing her tickets to attend Super Bowl LVII as our Ambassador. She is set to capture content and share on social to bring fans along to enjoy this once in a lifetime experience powered by LAY’S.
Making marketing magic took a lot of hard work, creativity and coordination (both internally and with CBS) to ensure we received the appropriate clearances to engage. Being a brand that is all about celebrating the power of joy, however, it was a perfect fit for LAY’S to be able to laud Taylor Hale’s triumphant history-making journey.
The LAY’S x Taylor Hayle Showmance was not only highly entertaining for Big Brother and potato chip fans alike, it also drove tremendous earned media results:
1.2 million unpaid organic social media engagements on Twitter
8 tweets from the @Lays Twitter Account delivering 2.7 million organic social media impressions and with an average engagement rate of 5%, nearly 1149 times the CPG average benchmark
Fellow houseguest Matt "Turner" Turner even made Hale a custom pair of sneakers with the LAY’S logo on them. This organic / unpaid video has accumulated over 19K views, 1.9K likes and 169 comments since it was posted to YouTube 2 months ago.
All the above generated with $0 in paid media support. That’s right, this entire campaign was fueled by organic consumer interest and fandom alone!!
There is no denying the irresistibility of LAY’S or the success of this campaign. By starting with social listening and building on authentic fandom, we not only increased positive conversation around the brand on social media but also increased sales. After 1.1 billion earned media impressions generated, LAY’S reigned supreme as the King of Summer Snacks with the Queen of Lay’s herself, Taylor Hale, right alongside.