Hunger has the potential to drive the most tranquil person into a tantrum-throwing diva. And, to bring things back to normal, all one needs is a nutty, caramelised candy bar. Mars Inc.'s candy brand Snickers, in its new television commercial, uses popular 'divas' such as Bollywood actors Rekha and Urmila Matondkar to drive home the point in an interesting manner.
The film is directed by popular Bollywood director Imtiaz Ali. Apart from TV, the current campaign extends to print, outdoor and digital media platforms.
The campaign is an extension of the brand's global campaign, 'You're Not You When You're Hungry'. It has seen numerous local adaptations across the globe, featured celebrities such as Liza Minnelli and Betty White, and won many awards at global platforms such as Cannes and Effies. In fact, the ad is exactly on the lines of the brand's ad featuring Liza Minnelli, which has the same setting. However, this is the first time that the campaign has seen an Indian adaption, with a local context and treatment.
Also, this is the first time the American chocolate and pet food giant has brought on two celebrities to be a part of the brand's communication in India. Although they have significant celebrity appeal, Rekha and Matondkar are not on board as brand ambassadors, but instantly grab attention.
On the choice of the celebrities, Navneet Virk, senior partner, creative, R K Swamy BBDO tells afaqs! how both the actors have diva-like qualities. "It is a cross-over of what you are in real life. Rekha exemplifies the persona, glamour and aura. Urmila was a glamorous heroine when she was at the top. "
Brands often try to adapt their global communications to India in order to retain a universal global image. Initially, Snickers chose an Indian communication and was positioned as a snack food to fight the four o' clock hunger. The Hindi message said, 'Hunger Baja Char. Snicker Khol Yaar'.
Virk explains that Snickers has always been an in-between-the-meals snack. "All we want to communicate through our efforts is that hunger has its side effects and they do not let you do what you want to do."
The current TVC for Snickers appears after a long hiatus of four years; the '4 pm Snack ad' was launched in 2008. In between, there were 15-second product ads that were launched for about four months in 2012.
A man thing?
Snickers' TVCs clearly target men. In fact, the core target group for the brand is young men in college or working men, in the age bracket of 16-25 years. The brand's ads, whether global or their local adaptations, poke fun at men who behave uncharacteristically when they are low on energy. The 'Get Some Nuts' campaign for the brand also involved men engaged in activities such as football or running, wherein slowing down or 'speed walking' was frowned upon, as it was considered not a 'manly' thing to do.
Even the ads on the platform 'Most Satisfying' lay emphasis on being a 'man'.
Meraj Hasan, vice-president, strategic planning, Everest Brand Solutions feels that rather than a sexist tone, the current TVC uses a stereotype, that of a female actor throwing tantrums. "The comeback with Urmila just confirms this," adds Hasan.
The TVC draws mixed reactions from the industry.
Satbir Singh, managing partner and chief creative officer, Havas Worldwide India feels that Rekha as a 'Diva' fits in well in this TVC. "One is not used to seeing Rekha in a commercial so it does make you notice it," he adds.
Singh adds that he isn't a big fan of 'Isske toh char baj gaye' ad. "It is a loaded chocolate bar, not a soup. The current one is light hearted. It is about consumption anytime you feel peckish," he says.
Reiterating Hasan's point on the choice of Rekha, Singh says, "By the very choice of using Rekha, the commercial is disruptive and will be noticed by all. You may hate it or love it, but you can't ignore it," he adds.
According to Sagar Mahabaleshwarkar, national creative director, Bates CHI & Partners, the ad is typical Indian ad work, which is loud and in-your-face. "It is a great insight. Even if I am hungry, I would behave like this. But the execution has spoilt a great idea," he says.
He explains how being 'too Bollywood' in approach has spoilt the idea. Considering the kind of target group for the brand, Mahabaleshwarkar opines that even if the brand had simply taken the global commercial, without the Indian adaptation, it would have worked in India.