In an ever-expanding global marketplace, it is becoming increasingly challenging to position a brand in an entirely unique, independent manner. However, Snickers did just that when they launched a new ad campaign during the 2017 Super Bowl. The live, 30-second commercial, starring Adam Driver, was shot and simultaneously aired during the first commercial break of the third quarter of the game.
Audiences love when everything goes wrong
Alexandra Jardine of Creativity Online summed up the live commercial well. “Driver wanders onto a Western movie shoot not realizing it’s started, trying to discuss the Big Game score with his fellow actors. He misses his cue to shoot them and then stumbles into the scenery, resulting in a domino effect on the whole set. The tagline: “You ruin live Super Bowl commercials when you’re hungry.” (http://creativity-online.com/work/snickers-super-bowl-li-spot/50847) The commercial’s tagline is a slight variation on Snicker’s classic tagline “You’re not you when you’re hungry.”
Humanization through human error
Driver’s seemingly accidental sabotage of the live commercial was obviously planned. So what was this staged failure meant to accomplish? It was meant to humanize the brand by presenting an A-list celebrity through a more accessible lens—thus the brand that the celebrity represented became more accessible as well. TV and movie stars are notoriously polished, so this intentionally unpolished look into a bad take of a commercial, made more exhilarating by the fact that it’s a live commercial, shows a side of a celebrity we don’t normally see. An even more interesting implication of an attempt to make an actor seem less ethereal and more ordinary is the subsequent effect it has on the brand’s image: Snickers, suddenly, becomes more relatable, more human. And the fact that this was all unfolding live heightened its effectiveness. In other words, its immediacy magnified its authenticity.
The excitement of live entertainment
But even before the live commercial aired during the Super Bowl, Snickers had already begun to amplify its sense of brand authenticity through immediacy. In the hours leading up to the live commercial, Snickers held a 36-hour live stream, an event created by BBDO New York in partnership with Facebook Creative Shop. “The live stream was created to generate social media buzz in advance of Snickers’ live commercial on the Super Bowl,” said Kathryn Luttner of Campaign Live. A few hours into the live stream, brand director Allison Miazga-Bedrick commented on the virtual event’s intrigue, stating that “people are just getting glued to it and they can’t stop [watching] in fear that they’re going to miss something.” (http://www.campaignlive.com/article/inside-strangely-hypnotic-snickers-36-hour-live-stream/1423170?dcmp=emc-conthecampaignfix&bulletin=the-campaign-fix) The live stream also allowed viewers to share their ideas for the live commercial itself. Miazga-Bedrick said that “We’re asking consumers for their input for Sunday’s ad during one of the vignettes that will air Friday.” This hands-on participation further intensified Snickers’ attempts to position itself as an approachable, human brand.
The possibility of imperfection is exciting
Between the live stream leading up to the Super Bowl, the encouraged audience participation, and the live commercial itself, Snickers’ marketing strategy is clear: position Snickers as a brand that is as human as the consumers who buy it. There’s nothing more exciting than the plausibility of human error. Why do you think reality television and gossip magazines are so popular? People love when celebrities make mistakes because it knocks them down to a relatable level we can relate to. Thus the brand, through this tactic along with other contributing factors, aims to gain on authenticity—which is in high demand. In this case, smaller brands have an edge. This is what Snickers has accomplished, and what other marketers attempting to position a brand as more genuine and approachable should strive for: strengthening brand authenticity by forging a sense of immediacy and transparency.