As the best selling candy bar of all time with annual sales of over $2 billion, Snickers has nothing to prove.
The Mars family introduced the brand in 1929 or 1930, depending upon which source you believe. Either way, Snickers is pushing 80—but you’d never know it by its advertising.
To reach their target audience of young men, Snickers has pushed the boundaries of taste over the last few years. The following ad created quite a hubbub:
Wikipedia describes the controversy well:
On February 4, 2007, during Super Bowl XLI, Snickers commercials aired which resulted in complaints by gay and lesbian groups against the maker of the candy bar, Masterfoods USA of Hackettstown, New Jersey, a division of Mars, Incorporated. The commercial, which had four alternate endings, showed a pair of auto mechanics accidentally touching lips while sharing a Snickers bar. Realizing that they “accidentally kissed”, they, in three of the four versions, “do something manly” (mostly in the form of injury, including tearing out chest hair, striking each other with a very large pipe wrench, and drinking motor oil and windshield washer fluid). In the fourth version, a third mechanic shows up and asks if there is “room for three in this Love Boat”.
The website for the commercials, since taken down, also featured Super Bowl players viewing the commercials and reacting with disgust to the “kiss”. The website said that the commercials would be aired during the upcoming Daytona 500. Complaints were lodged against Masterfoods that the ads were homophobic.
I doubt the ad would have fared well here on The Responsible Marketing Blog, but to Masterfoods’ credit, they didn’t crawl into their chocolate-covered shell.
Who can forget the Snickers Dark Bar Viking:
Sure, he’s trashing someone’s car (not particularly responsible), but it’s impossible to take your eyes off of it, nonetheless.
Now, Snickers has introduced “Get Some Nuts.” Check out the following ads:
The site includes Mr. T ringtones, videos, wallpaper and the code to embed the following widget on most social sites and blogs:
As the leader, Snickers could lay low and play it safe. They deserve credit for not doing that.
Sure, “Get Some Nuts” is sophomoric, and it would be hard to call it message responsible: The homophobic overtone of the speedwalker ad can’t be missed.
But it certainly breaks through, doesn’t it?
Would you consider this campaign responsible or not?
Comment below to weigh in.
Effective July 24, Mars pulled speedwalker ad.