Wonderful execution. Smart strategy.
Snickers has found a marvelous advertising formula in the idea that “You aren’t yourself when you’re hungry.” All they need to do is exaggerate the difference between “yourself” and “the hungry you” and they have a joke that works, one the audience immediately gets and enjoys. In this ad, Marcia Brady from the Brady Bunch becomes Danny Trejo when she’s hungry. In one of the other versions, Abe Lincoln becomes Pinocchio when he’s hungry.
An advertising formula that can be continually refreshed and always fun is a wonderful resource for an advertiser. Snickers’ formula is particularly strong because it is also strategically smart.
Any ad encourages viewers to do one thing instead of doing something else. In this case, viewers are encouraged to eat a Snickers but the “instead of” is the key. We might normally expect Snickers to suggest we eat a Snickers “instead of” another candy bar. But Snickers is thinking beyond candy bars. Viewers are encouraged to eat a Snickers “instead of” any other snack that might ward off temporary hunger.
Snickers doesn’t make a logical case that Snickers is superior to other snack alternatives. Snickers is just after association and mental availability. Snickers wants to be associated with any occasion when you might be feeling a little hungry. They want the Snickers to pop into viewers’ minds whenever viewers are thinking about a snack.
Snickers realizes that their best chance of growth comes not from comparing themselves to other candy bars but from expanding the range of occasions when Snickers is appropriate.
Snickers has made a smart “instead of” choice.