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Snickers Resolves Hunger-Induced Identity Crisis

Han·gry (ˈhaNGɡrē/) adjective/informal: Bad-tempered or irritable, as a result of hunger.

Although this hybrid word may be relatively new, the sensation of hanger has been around since the dawn of time. OK, so this was the problem: people were getting hungry (obviously). And they were craving chocolate (of course). But, when stopping by the candy isle, Snickers was not a brand on their minds.

When the Mars Strategy Department at BBDO set out to redefine their image and increase sales, they realized it was time to stop targeting a niche group of younger males and engage with a broader audience. To do so, they got behind a universal human insight:

You’re not you when you’re hungry.

Ain’t that the truth. And while any food can fill an empty stomach, BBDO saw an opportunity to own those starving, irritable moments. So, they brought in celebrities and used them to personify hanger. And it worked! In the first year of the campaign, candy bar sales increased by 705,000. Much of their success was due to their chosen ad space: both Betty White’s spot and The Brady Bunch ran during the Super Bowl.

And, Snickers didn’t just stick to spots; they took to social and guerilla tactics. In NYC subways, the team distributed Snickers “Emergency Cases.” They took over Twitter with the help of celebrity influencers who would tweet out of character, eventually revealing the truth with the hashtag #Yourenotyouwhenyourehungry. In 2015, the company found fails in the NYC area and drew attention to them with Snickers stickers featuring the tagline.