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You’re not you when you’re hungry

You’re not you when you’re hungry

There is no need for an introduction to one of the most well-known candy bars in the world. It went far, from its humble beginnings as a chocolate bar, allegedly named after a horse in 1930; it grew in popularity and became the best-selling candy bar in the world, with more than 2 billion USD in annual sales across more than 70 countries. I am, of course, talking about Snickers.1

A large part of Snickers' success was arguably due to its genius marketing campaign "You're not you when you're hungry," which was acclaimed and won many marketing awards. This explanation will dig deeper into Snickers' successful marketing campaign and strategy.

Snickers You're Not You When You're Hungry Campaign

From 2007 to 2009, Snickers experienced a sales growth decline; it was losing market share and was at risk of losing its leading position as the world's best-seller chocolate bar. In addition, over the last few years, there was no unified strategy across the company's branches; in other words, Snickers was losing its touch.2

By nature, a Snickers bar is an impulsive buy - something people take on the go when they want a snack. The problem is that thousands of substitute products exist on the market. So Snickers realized they needed to create a permanent memory of their brand in people's minds to remember when they buy a snack. This marked the beginning of the search for a new marketing campaign for Snickers.

Fun fact: Snickers produces 15 million Snickers bars daily; each contains about 16 peanuts, weighing approximately 0.5g. Therefore, Snickers needs about 100 tons of peanuts every day and about 36,500 tons per year1, which is about 0.1% of the entire world's peanut production or equivalent to Morocco's annual production.7

You are not you when you are hungry Peanuts for Snickers StudySmarterFig. 1 - Peanuts

You're Not You When You're Hungry Meaning

Everything changed for Snickers in 2009, when it developed a new marketing strategy with the ad agency BBDO.2 Their marketing research team realized that humans follow a code of conduct to live in society and groups. This behavior is closely linked to humanity's evolution, as we descend from animals who live in a pack, where there is generally a hierarchy, rules to follow, and things to do which ensure the group's cohesion. Humans unconsciously replicate this behavior when they are part of a group.6

The genius of Snickers' marketing strategy was to tap into this collective thinking and link this fact to its product. In its ads, Snickers often pictures specific types of people that are out of place in a group they shouldn't be associated with. For example, we can see an older man riding a motorbike with youngsters, the clumsy Mr. Bean in a group of skilled ninjas, and the actress Betty White on a football team.4 The idea was to show that those people didn't belong to this specific group. Then, someone would give them a Snickers bar and tell them they are not themself when they are hungry. After eating the Snickers bar, the out-of-place actor would transform into someone who belongs in that group: a young man riding a motorbike, a ninja, and a football player.

The Snickers campaign idea was to convince people that they are not themselves when they are hungry and are not acting as they should in this specific type of group. The ad solution for this problem is to eat a Snickers bar, ensuring you can be yourself and be part of that group.

Snickers ads have a specific sense of humor, where they place a character that acts completely differently than it should be or is in a group or environment that doesn't make sense to them. The great thing about that humor is that it can easily be replicated repeatedly and will still be hilarious.

The "You're not you when you're hungry" marketing campaign was a massive success. In its first year of worldwide broadcast, it increased Snickers' world sales by 15.9% and gained market shares in 56 of the 58 markets where Snickers broadcasted the ads.2

Snickers Target Audience

Although historically, Snickers targeted a young male audience, it shifted from that narrow target to a broader market. That shift in Snicker's target customers changed its marketing strategy. It had to reach a broader market segment by using various media, such as TV, movies, radio, internet platform, printed ads, billboards, etc. They wanted to be connected to as many people as possible so that their marketing strategy could reach further and transform Snickers into an icon brand relatable to everyone.

In marketing, the target customer is the type of customer the company aims to reach with its campaign.

A market segment is a subgroup of people from the global market with similar characteristics, tastes, and needs.

Check out our explanation of Market Segmentation to learn more.

Snickers Brand Positioning

One of the great ways Snickers differentiates itself from other brands is through its positioning strategy and the use of marketing codes.

Throughout its marketing strategy, Snickers position itself by establishing that hunger makes you a different person and that Snickers can solve that problem and help you become yourself again. That's the value proposition Snickers offers.

As stated earlier, Snickers uses some marketing codes established over the years to differentiate itself from other brands and be immediately recognized by its customers, such as the Snickers logo or the caramel link you see when opening a Snickers, as shown in Figure 2 below.5

You're not you when you're hungry Snickers open showing caramel StudySmarterFig. 2 - Marketing code: open Snickers with caramel

Snickers uses marketing codes in all its marketing campaigns to be immediately recognized by its customers. For example:

Snickers created an app with the brand's colors. When people use the app, it tells them who they would be when they were hungry, reinforcing both the codes used by Snickers, but also the message and positioning of the company.

Snickers wrote the famous sentence on some printed ads: "Luke, I am Your Mother" by Darth Vader. With that ad, Snickers claimed that Darth Vader was hungry and needed to eat. We can immediately recognize the brand's signature humor and the logo on the ad.

Marketing codes make the brand unique and help differentiate it from its competitors and be immediately recognizable. It's generally a recurrent theme until it is part of the company's identity.

Positioning is how a brand affects people's perceptions and where it stands relative to its competitors.

The value proposition is what the company promises to bring to its customer when using a product or service.

Snickers You're Not You When You're Hungry Celebrities

Celebrities' endorsement of the Snickers brand is a critical factor in its success. Snickers excels in leveraging the personality and fame of stars in its on-screen and off-screen marketing strategy to capture a more significant customer segment of the market.

An endorsement is when a celebrity or famous person promotes a product or a brand.

When celebrities associate themselves with a brand, it gives the brand broader market coverage to those who like and trust them. As such, those potential customers might be more interested in the brand since it is endorsed by someone they respect.

Many Snickers TV commercials became cult as celebrities were put in a group entirely out of their character to reveal that they were hungry and were not themselves. For example, the diva Liza Minnelli in a group of young men on a road trip, Joe Pesci at a teenager party, the clumsy Mr. Bean in a group of highly skilled ninjas, Willem Dafoe in Marilyn Monroe's famous dress, etc.4

One example of this innovative marketing off-screen was when Snickers paid celebrities to write five posts on their Instagram accounts. The first four posts were inappropriate and completely off of what they usually post. For example, the top model Katie Price shared her thoughts about the Eurozone debt crisis, and the footballer Rio Ferdinand shared his wish to knit a cardigan. The final tweet shared the marketing campaign's plot, "You're not yourself when you're hungry." It was a huge marketing success as people shared and commented on the posts, making them viral. The media shared the stories, reaching more than 26 million people.2 Just for reference, those two celebrities alone had almost 4 million followers, in contrast to SnickersUK, which only had 825 at that time.3

Another example is when Snickers asked the most popular morning DJ in Puerto Rico to play entirely out-of-character music, such as classic and opera songs, on a hip-hop radio station. After a while, an announcer stopped the music to announce that the DJ was hungry and needed a Snickers.2

Snickers' famous marketing campaign was a great way to convince people that they are not themselves when they are hungry and that Snickers can solve that problem. The genius of this campaign is that Snickers can repeatedly recycle the same joke with different characters in different environments; it will still feel different and be hilarious. But Snickers is not content with that and always finds new innovative ways to promote its brand with various platforms and celebrities while staying fresh in people's minds. What is certain for the future is that Snickers will continue making us laugh with great marketing campaigns.

You're not you when you're hungry - Key takeaways

  • The Snickers campaign idea was to convince people that they are not themselves when hungry and are not acting as they should in a specific group. The ad solution for this problem is to eat a Snickers bar, ensuring you can be yourself and be part of that group.
  • Snickers marketing takes advantage of human behavior built and evolved over thousands of years, reaching our subconscious behavior.
  • Snickers positions and differentiates itself from its competitors through marketing codes.
  • When celebrities associate themselves with a brand, it gives the brand broader market coverage to those who like and trust those celebrities.

References

  1. The Daily meal. 10 things you didn't know about Snickers. 04/11/2014.https://www.thedailymeal.com/cook/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-snickers#:~:text=Snickers%20are%20sold%20in%20more,candy%20bar%20in%20the%20world
  2. James Miler. Case study: How fame made Snickers' 'You're not you when you're hungry' campaign a success. 26/10/2016. https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/case-study-fame-made-snickers-youre-not-when-youre-hungry-campaign-success/1410807
  3. Rob Cooper. Katie Price and Rio Ferdinand at centre of advertising watchdog probe after posting tweets of themselves holding Snickers bars. 27/01/2012 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2092561/Katie-Price-Rio-Ferdinand-centre-Snickers-Twitter-advertising-probe.html
  4. Commercials King. All Funniest Snickers Commercials EVER! 31/01/2021. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNQl9Zf25_g&t=73s
  5. Marketing Week. Mark Ritson on how Snickers turned around declining market share. 15/07/2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKkXD6HicLc&t=7s
  6. Harari, Yuval Noah. 2011. Sapiens. New York, NY: Harper.
  7. Countries by Peanut Production - https://www.atlasbig.com/en-ae/countries-by-peanut-production

Frequently Asked Questions about You’re not you when you’re hungry

One of Snickers' most effective marketing strategies was celebrity endorsements in its ads. By endorsing the brand, people relate to it more.

Although historically, Snickers targeted a young male audience, it shifted from that narrow target to a broader market and now tries to appeal to every type of customer.

Snickers and the ad agency BBDO came up with the phrase, "You're not you when you're hungry."

The key brand message is that people are not themselves when they are hungry. A Snickers bar is the solution to make people themselves again.

By nature, a Snickers bar is an impulsive buy; something people take on the go when they want a snack. The problem is that thousands of substitute products exist on the market. Snickers realized that they needed to create a lasting memory of their brand in people's minds so that when they go to a shop to buy a snack, they will remember Snickers.  

That people are not themselves when they are hungry. A Snickers bar is the solution to make people themselves again.

Final You’re not you when you’re hungry Quiz

Question

When was Snickers established?

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Answer

1930

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Question

What was Snickers' brilliant marketing campaign slogan?

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Answer

“You’re Not You When You’re Hungry”

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Question

Who developed the marketing campaign “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry”?

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Answer

Snickers and the ad agency BBDO

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Question

In its first year of broadcasting, how much percentage did Snickers' sales increase worldwide?

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Answer

15.9%

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Question

Who can endorse a brand?

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Answer

A soccer player

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Question

Who is the target market for Snickers? 

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Answer

Although historically, Snickers targeted a young male audience, it shifted from that narrow target to a broader market and now tries to appeal to every type of customer.

Show question

Question

What is the key brand message behind Snickers "You're not you when you're hungry"? 

Show answer

Answer

That people are not themselves when they are hungry. A Snickers bar is the solution to make people themselves again.

Show question

Question

A __________ is a subgroup of people from the global market with similar characteristics, tastes, and needs. 

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Answer

Market segment

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Question

What is the value proposition of a company?

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Answer

It is what the company promises to bring to its customer when using a product or a service.

Show question

Question

What are Snickers' marketing codes? 

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Answer

Slogan

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Question

What are Snickers' annual sales?

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Answer

>2 billion USD

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Question

In marketing, the _________ is the type of customer the company aims to reach with its campaign.

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Answer

Target customer

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Question

Celebrities' _________ of the Snickers brand is a critical factor in its success. 

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Answer

endorsement

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Question

When did Snickers officially start its marketing campaign "You're Not You When You're Hungry"?

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Answer

2009

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Question

How many Snickers bars are produced on a daily basis?

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Answer

15 million

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60%

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