The 2014 launch of the latest instalment of Snickers’ long running ‘You’re Not You When You’re Hungry’ campaign, received much attention on social media, but possibly not for the right reasons. Interestingly, and perhaps unsurprisingly in 2019 that campaign is nowhere to be seen online, even on industry titles. A difficult but necessary lesson learned.
While it would be nice to think that one of Clemenger’s communication objectives was to promote discussion about stereotypes, sexism and abuse in all its forms against women, no industry spokesperson has validated this, and so I’m left wondering if adequate thought was given to the implications of using such a highly charged issue to communicate the daily experience of feeling a little peckish for a Snickers bar, and behaving differently when you are.
Celebrated Clemenger BBDO Melbourne executive creative director Ant Keogh said: “It’s not always easy to create a local adaptation of a global theme, but with Snickers, it’s been an absolute delight. The whole premise of ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’ gives us enormous scope,” he said.
Unfortunately, the idea, while consistent with a clever creative proposition, has fallen short of questioning whether it is socially responsible to align male hunger for a Snickers bar with the only time in the day they are able to behave respectfully towards women. It really doesn’t matter that construction workers are the perpetrators of sexist behaviour here. What does matter is that the ad if taken to its logical conclusion condones sexism and abuse of women when men are themselves and eating Snickers bars. Not sure this is the sort of brand messaging either party intended.
The two questions that should have been asked, (which clearly weren’t) – are:
Is being you, and you being sexist, okay?
Is you at your best, a sexist?
The ad’s consumer backlash indicates that the interpretation and execution of the premise has been completely insensitive to the troubling state of the real issue of sexism and violence in all forms, against women.
In its defence, the ad is actually quite likeable because of the element of surprise employed. I like the fact that it uses a stereotype most of us women have been on the receiving end of, to surprise us with unlikely behaviours. The juxtaposition of the script’s language and construction workers is comical, demanding more than one view. It’s also been executed well and convincingly.
This Australian instalment of Snicker’s ‘You’re Not You When You’re Hungry’ campaign does well to elicit such mixed responses, forcing us to question the status quo and promote dialogue of this very important issue. However, this objective does not appear to be one that Clemenger has built into its communications. Indeed, a deeper line of questioning during strategy sessions might have created a more warmly received campaign. While a script edit may have tempered the outcry, so too would a super at the end of the spot with a call to action, or a strategic partnership with a relevant industry body that fights for womens’ rights. It’s never too late.
[As an aside, congratulations to Campaign Brief for landing Clemenger’s exclusive and with 2,474,447 views of the video to date, let’s be positive that debate will in fact positively affect continued cultural and political change).