January 27, 2012Snickers’ social media campaign is advertising genius at its best

Katie Price and Rio Ferdinand are facing a probe by the Advertising Standards Authority for their part in a wicked spoof by Snickers that quickly went viral across the ‘net. The celebrities posted a series of out-of-character tweets: Katie, whose breasts are bigger than her head and, almost certainly, than her brain – posted about quantitative easing, liquidity in the bond market, and the political economy, while footballer Rio Ferdinand posted about the joys of knitting.

Several tweets later, it was revealed to be a marketing ploy by Snickers: the celebrities tweeted ‘you’re not yourself when you’re hungry’.

The campaign was brilliant. The fact is few people really use social media well. Campaigns are needlessly complicated and convoluted, almost inevitably reflecting the number of people involved in writing them. Social media campaigns work best when they are kept simple.

I wrote some time ago about an offer at Pizza Express that required you to download and install a Facebook app and reserve your table through the app in order to qualify for a discount pizza. A mail-out flyer or coupon would have garnered more business. In the end I ate in a Prezzo which had a ‘buy one get one free’ offer displayed on a board outside.

Yes, yes, yes. Getting you to install an app is a great way to mine personal data, for now. It’s only a matter of time, once things like seeing increased prices once you’ve ‘liked’ something online, before the backlash starts — and people refuse to engage at all. But advertising has never been about complexity – nor has it been about treating the customer like an idiot. In the famous words of David Ogilvy, “The customer is not a moron, she is your wife.” Good campaigns are simple, direct, and most importantly of all — they speak at the same level as their audience.

Snickers’ social media campaign fulfilled all three criteria for a good campaign, social media or otherwise. Ultimately the best campaigns get people talking, and that’s exactly what Snickers managed to do.

So why are they being investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority? Of course, it could be a little bit of cheeky on-the-side marketing (getting reported to the ASA is a great way of getting even more press for your campaign), but you have to wonder where-next-for-social-media (and celebrity) if a simple bait-and-switch campaign is declared illegal.

Send a few fake tongue-in-cheek tweets. Then tell everyone it was a joke, associate the joke with the brand.

A formula so simple a child could have created it. Yet they didn’t. It was the work of a fiendishly clever advertising brain. It takes a true genius to create a campaign so simple.

At no point did the campaign talk down to its audience. Any ‘deception’ was light hearted and extremely unlikely to cause offence.

Best of all, it wasn’t a transparent attempt at data mining, demanding ‘engagement’ with an app or a page without giving a great deal in return. It was simply good old fashioned word of mouth.

Here’s hoping to see many more campaigns like it in the future.

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This entry was posted on Friday, January 27th, 2012 at 12:24 pm and is filed under Advertising, Blog, Social Media. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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