The Snickers Brand and HumorBy Tom Dougherty
21 January 2021
The Snickers brand: Does humor really work?
Have any of you ever thought about the Snickers brand name? It suggests humor. A snicker at some joke or comment.
In reality, it was named by the Mars family after a beloved horse in 1930. Who knew?
But Snickers brings up an interesting question for advertisers. Does humor really create preference?
I thought about this after seeing a few TV spots from the Snickers brand that suggest people should grab its nut brownie during uncomfortable moments.
Some of the ads work.
Some, well, you aren’t so sure.
“The Snickers brand, though, has permission to be funny. The name is funny. A candy bar is a funny concept, once you think about it. It’s a guilty pleasure.”
Humor is overused in advertising. There’s a big reason for that. Ad agencies win awards with humorous ads. So many of them just become skits without viewers even knowing which brand the ad is promoting.
Most don’t create preference. They may be memorable. But only for the humor.
The Snickers brand does humor right
The Snickers brand, though, has permission to be funny. The name is funny. A candy bar is a funny concept, once you think about it.
But brand permission only goes so far. The humor in the ads must make sense. That is, they must relate to the brand promise. For years, Snickers has meant settling you down when things go wrong. Or are just plain weird. Remember the spots saying, “You’re not you when you’re hungry”? Betty White, Abe Vigoda and others were featured.
Those spots related to the meaning of the Snickers brand.
But many don’t. Take insurance commercials. GEICO and Nationwide are the biggest troublemakers here. Every ad is some sort of skit with a set of characters (in the case of Nationwide). But they never relate to the brand. Not in any meaningful, emotional sense.
So those insurance brands wonder why spending all those millions does very little to increase market share.
Using humor in advertising only applies when your brand has permission and the humor actually fits within that brand’s meaning.
The Snickers brand and its TV ads do both. But beware. If you don’t have permission and the humor doesn’t fit with your brand meaning, your brand will be lost in the wash of the humor like colors fading in bleach.
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