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Monday, December 7, 2015




As we issue our final DISPATCHES for 2015, it seems like a good time to reflect on a currently running BIG Campaign Idea—and a global one at that.  Over the years, both of us have found that we share a similar reaction to a winning communications idea (or any winning marketing idea, for that matter):  recognizing its stand-out strategic and executional strengths, we simply exclaim, “I wish I had worked on that!”


As this week’s title gives away, one for sure that we wish we had worked on is the Snickers “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign.  First launched on television here in the U.S. during Super Bowl XLIV back in January, 2010, the campaign has since gone global, digital, viral, and definitely cultural.  So, wrapping up its fifth complete year, it seems only right to highlight some of the reasons it has worked so well and been so well-received--everywhere.


1.  The Campaign Idea squarely delivers on Snickers’ longstanding benefit—between meal hunger satisfaction.  In fact, the idea continues the brand’s long-running “ownership” of what, really, is nothing more than a categoric benefit.  There are many between meal snacks—sweet, savory, and drinkable—that can provide some short-term hunger relief.  But, as we know now, only Snickers made the decision (back in the 1980’s) to make a run at owning this benefit.  No doubt, having peanuts as a prominent ingredient helped to make such a run credible.


According to WikipediA, Snickers first began communicating the brand’s intent to imply a kind of hunger satisfaction in 1980.  They ran TV ads that featured ordinary people talking about why they liked Snickers so much.  And these testimonials were accompanied by a clever mnemonic device—a close up of a hand filled with peanuts closing and then re-opening as a Snickers bar.  The key copy words:  “Packed with peanuts, Snickers really satisfies.”  Of course, Snickers satisfied on two levels…indulgent taste satisfaction, and temporarily, filling up satisfaction.


2.  Strategically, the Campaign Idea evolves from the original Product Benefit to a higher-order Consumer Functional Benefit.  Such an evolution is what most marketers and their creative agencies only dream of—to keep the Brand Positioning (especially that One Thing the brand stands for that other brands do not) alive and relevant as campaigns shift.  If you merely look back at key copy words from some of the preceding Snickers campaigns, the evolution is evident: 

  • “Not going anywhere for awhile?  Grab a Snickers.”
  • “Hungry?  Grab a Snickers.”
  • “Snickers.  Don’t let hunger happen to you.”
  • “Snickers.  You’re not you when you’re hungry.”

What the Snickers brand stands for is crystal clear in each case.  But in the subtle move to “Don’t let hunger happen to you” the brand began its evolution from merely promising a Product Benefit (what the product does—satisfy hunger) to a more “so what” Consumer Functional Benefit (what’s in it for me—get back to being myself)…while still delivering on the Product Benefit.


3.  The Campaign Idea is anchored on a universally understood—and appreciated—Consumer Insight.  Much in the way that MasterCard’s global “Priceless” campaign is built upon a universal acknowledgement that buying more and more things will not bring you happiness, Snickers “You’re Not You” is built upon a universal humanly-shared truth that when we get hungry, we often get less desirable to be around…or, at the very least, we are not our usual selves.  Such a “negative” feeling insight might not normally play well; after all, who wants to be reminded that, sometimes, we are not very much fun to be around?  But because the Campaign Idea consciously chooses to feature a wide variety of celebrities known for their own behavioral issues (testiness, loopy-ness, whiny-ness, and so on) there’s no “direct hit” on us.  And we can laugh—even if we don’t recall (or are too young to have ever known) who the featured celebrity is.  For us, once again we take this sometimes hard-to-learn lesson:  You want a global campaign?  Then you need a global insight.


4.  The Campaign Idea works across all media.  Although launched via the more traditional TV medium here in the US, across the globe “You’re Not You” has been launched and sustained considerably by many varieties of the new media.  The UK’s launch was Twitter-only to start, using well-known personalities from the world of modeling and sports who began tweeting out-of-character…until they had their twisted personalities undone by eating Snickers.  And, as you would expect, there are any number of other social media engagements that the campaign promotes, such as using an on-line meme generator to get consumers to identify their own peculiar hunger-induced behaviors.


5.  The BIG (Communications) Campaign Idea is becoming a BIG Marketing Idea.  The most recent evidence of this lies in what the brand is now doing with selective packaging—in well-recognized Snickers logotype, offering a range of “not being you” anomalies for consumers to choose.  Such a move, five years into the campaign, demonstrates the degree to which the Campaign Idea is well-known and associated with the Snickers brand.  Even more, it offers a way to generate free GRP’s at retail, while also attaching the Consumer Benefit WIIFM-effect (What’s In It For Me) directly to the product itself.



With so many good things going for it—not to mention the sheer entertainment value of so many of the TV spots—come on, admit it:  this is a definitely an Idea you wish you had worked on too.


Richard Czerniawski & Mike Maloney


Richard Czerniawski

430 Abbotsford Road

Kenilworth, Illinois 60043

tel 847.256.8820 fax 847.256.8847

reply to Richard: or



Mike Maloney

1506 West 13th

Austin, Texas 78703

tel 512.236.0971 fax 512.236.0972

reply to Mike: or

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