How One Satisfying Insight Has Led to Six Years of Success for SNICKERS

November 16, 2016

By Crystal Albanese

Debuting during the 2010 Super Bowl, SNICKERS’ “You’re not you when you’re hungry” campaign has been become a staple of American media, featured everywhere from TV ads to street art. Simple and universal, this campaign has been honored with 13 Cannes Lions, 12 Effies, 13 One Show Pencils, two D&AD Pencils, two Emmy nominations, one IPA Effectiveness Award, the first-ever Super Bowl Clio and, most recently, a special Clio Hall of Fame Award.

In this Q&A, #ANABrand speakers Allison Miazga-Bedrick, marketing director at Mars North America, and Susannah Keller, EVP and global director at BBDO New York, share how the brand came upon this universal insight that led to a hugely successful campaign.


The “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign has been a real game-changer for the SNICKERS brand. What data or insights did you have that led you to believe this approach was the right one?

Susannah: In 2009, we had found ourselves in a place where we’d created work that was too narrow and targeted. We realized that with a brand like SNICKERS, what we needed was a big populist idea that would relate to men and women, young and old. Essentially, we needed a campaign for everyone, in every country, and the campaign insight allowed us to do just that. 

We also found that there is a certain way of behaving when you are part of a group – there is a universal code of conduct that people need to abide by in order to maintain their status within their group. When you’re hungry and off your game, it’s hard to keep up with your “pack.” Playing off this behavior was instrumental in ensuring the campaign carried appeal to a much wider audience, both by region and demographics. 

What is the creative process for these ads like? Since the initial ad with Betty White, you’ve featured a handful of other stars, including Liza Minnelli and Steve Buscemi. How do you decide which celebrities make sense?

Allison: The campaign was initially made famous through TV, using celebrity transformation as a creative device. The key to selecting celebrities is finding ones with distinctive personalities who could embody a certain hunger trait. Secondly, we were sure to pick celebrities who had mass appeal in their respective region. The Brady Bunch, for example, is a show beloved by those growing up in the 70s, but still has mass appeal in the U.S. Lastly, we've found that the best celebrities are those who enjoy laughing at themselves. It makes them more relatable and lovable to their fans.

Susannah: But the campaign is bigger than the celebrities, the creative platform is so fertile that it allows us to continually look at ways to inspire creativity and build on the You’re Not You platform in all mediums. This allows us to surprise and delight people in places they wouldn’t expect. 

You’ve now rolled the campaign out across 80 countries. What steps have you taken to ensure it has the same impact internationally that it has had on the American market?

Allison: SNICKERS is one of our most visible global brands, so we were looking for a global campaign from the start. The insight – you feel out of sorts when you’re hungry – is constant, and we’ve found it works in nearly every language, culture, and nation in the world. We always want to be culturally aware and relevant, so the executions are a cross section of the universal human truth and local cultural elements that make it resonate and relevant, fueling the iconic nature of the campaign. 

What is the importance of a brand having a cornerstone campaign like You’re Not You When You’re Hungry?

Allison: Leveraging a universal insight is extremely powerful, but finding one that naturally links to your brand is also challenging to identify. I think the fame and effectiveness of the campaign is multidimensional, the universal truth behind it and a big creative idea that serves as an organizing principle and something that everyone can understand and work off of. And of course, the humorous ways we’ve found to bring that to life have really helped us raise the bar consistently and creatively.

Hear more from Allison and Susannah at the 2017 Brand Masters Conference. Their presentation will expand on how one universal insight has led to a hugely successful campaign. They’ll also be joined by CMOs and top marketers from Taco Bell, Intel, Subaru, Allstate, Charles Schwab, Kings Hawaiian, and more.

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