Close-Up: Walkers' 'do us a flavour' is engaging the nation

Walkers' campaign generated 1.2 million flavour ideas as people willingly bought into the concept, Kate Nettleton writes.

May we suggest a packet of Cajun Squirrel if you get the munchies this afternoon? Or how about Crispy Duck & Hoisin, Fish & Chips, Builder's Breakfast, Chilli & Chocolate or Onion Bhaji?

Walkers' "do us a flavour" campaign, asking the British public to invent a new crisp flavour, kicked off last summer and the shortlisted variants listed above have just hit the shops.

Miranda Sambles, the marketing manager at Walkers, explains: "The idea came out of a meeting with some of the most talented creative minds at our partner agencies: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, Freud, our below-the-line agency Big Kick, and the director of our ads, Paul Weiland."

Getting all of Walkers' agencies to work seamlessly together was essential if all the different elements of the campaign were to mesh effectively. The first stage of the campaign, which sought to stimulate consumers to come up with flavour ideas, began with a TV push created by AMV.

Meanwhile, a targeted PR drive from Freud aimed to drum up excitement among TV hosts and radio presenters. Alongside the Walkers flavour team, Freud devised bespoke flavours for different presenters: Chris Moyles, for example, was considered perfect for the "meat and two veg" flavour.

A tie-up with The Sun generated lots of PR around this stage of the initiative, but a wide cross-section of the media took up the story. The underlying message was about encouraging people to visit a dedicated website, designed by AMV and produced by the digital agency Jigsaw, to submit their suggestions.

The campaign was phenomenally successful: more than 1.2 million flavour suggestions were submitted. It is now up to the British public to decide their favourite flavour from the six finalists. The inventor of the winning flavour will scoop a £50,000 prize plus 1 per cent of future revenue from sales of the flavour. If the sales match those of the BBQ flavour, for example, that would equate to £57,000 a year.

While the "do us a flavour" website now functions as a political campaigning site where users can vote for their favourite of the six flavours, partnerships with Facebook, where consumers can also cast their vote, and Yahoo!, which is hosting a "do us a flavour" channel, have also bolstered engagement.

Despite all this investment in multichannel activity, it was the age-old power of the on-pack promotion, designed by the US-based design agency Perspective, that captured the imagination of Jane Hallam, the finalist responsible for the "Fish & Chips" flavour.

"It was the crisp packet bit that got me interested. Although I subsequently saw the TV ads and went online and looked at the site, it didn't pull me into the competition.I entered by post," she explains.

Ultimately, what enticed Hallam and many others was the chance to be involved in a decision-making process previously performed behind closed doors. Colin Jones, a creative director at AMV, explains: "It's the collaboration between Walkers and the British public - the contact they have with them, the fact that the public can have a say in such a massive British brand - that's proven so successful."

And let's not forgot the lure of a 1 per cent slice of profits from the winning flavour, which Sambles promises will last "as long as customers choose to buy it".