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Tostitos? emoji-centric social contest misses mark on engagement

Frito-Lay?s Tostitos brand is encouraging consumers to tell the brand how they would party, using only emojis, a strategy that could fail to excite consumers already inundated with more relevant content. 

Fans of Tostitos Cantina chips are asked to partake in the emoji contest for an opportunity to bring their loved ones to a $100,000 celebration taking place on National Chip and Dip Day later this month. A growing number of big brands are grabbing at the chance to use emojis due to their vast popularity at the moment, but without a compelling reason to interact, this tactic could fall flat. 

?If Tostitos wanted to encourage engagement, it could build a simple emoji creator Web app, or encourage fans to tweet something personalized, unique, or interactive, rather than tweeting some sequence of existing emoji,? said James McNally, senior manager of business development at Prolific Interactive, Brooklyn, NY.

Consumers? favorite language
Tostitos is attempting to tap into the latest craze on mobile platforms ? using emojis to communicate various sentiments. A slew of brands are rolling out their own emoji keyboards, featuring cartoon versions of their products or mascots, while others are ramping up emoji-heavy content on their social channels.

?Leveraging a mobile strategy is extremely important to Tostitos,? said a Frito-Lay spokesperson. ?All of our campaigns are developed with mobile in mind first because that?s where our consumers live their lives.

?In fact, we know almost half of Tostitos consumers engage with us through their smartphones.?

Tostitos enthusiasts can compete for a chance to attend the food marketer?s National Chip and Dip Day party on March 23 by tweeting their own emoji party suggestions to @Tostitos. The hashtags #Entry and #TostitosEmojiParty must be present.

With more than six billion emojis used daily, Tostitos claims it is excited to see the combinations consumers make, with the help of their imaginations.

Social media users can enter by compiling their own list of favorite, party-worthy emojis and tweeting them directly to Tostitos? official Twitter account, or by visiting the microsite for the campaign,

There, individuals may watch a short YouTube video discussing the campaign in more detail, and use the Tostitos emoji generator to help with their submissions. The microsite will aggregate a plethora of emojis, which consumers can choose to tweet out immediately, or dismiss in favor of another batch. They can continue refreshing the emojis until they stumble upon the ideal combination.

Bolstering engagement
Although the emoji-centric campaign is a valiant effort at connecting with millennials and younger consumers on mobile platforms, consumers may need another push to spend time concocting the perfect emoji party set for a chance to win a spot at a National Chip and Day celebration, meaning that Tostitos could be forced to jazz up fan engagement with another tactic.

Frito-Lay, its parent company, has engaged in several mobile initiatives over the past year, all of which have maintained a unique marketing spin.

Frito-Lay is one of the brands bringing a revamped spin to SMS-based receipt promotions by offering participants alluring rewards from other brands instead of standard money-back offers (see story).

Additionally, last spring, PepsiCo?s Frito-Lay division leveraged an interactive tool and personalized packaging ahead of Memorial Day weekend by letting consumers on mobile create custom digital bags of Lay?s potato chips featuring photos of favorite summer moments (see story).

?As trends in the space go, emojis are a fine one to exploit circa right now,? Mr. McNally said. ?However, marketers should be careful about the ?brands saying bae? phenomenon; injecting emojis into an otherwise pointless campaign doesn't somehow make it relevant, or cool to millennials. 

?Social is risky for brands, and reaching too hard for coolness or relevancy can lead to much more harm than good. Brands should embrace social and all its idiosyncrasies (like emojis), but they should make sure there is an overarching strategy to engage and create relationships.?