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A Bright Concept

Welcome to the Writing Portfolio of Gabriel Liwerant

The Snickers ad campaign, the one where they take real words and make portmanteaus with food-related words, is back. I remember it from last year. I also remember not thinking highly of it last year.

"But you remembered it! Doesn't that mean it's a successful ad?"

I argue that no, no that isn't all that's required to make an ad campaign successful. To make an ad campaign successful, one must do at least two things:

1) Create an ad campaign that is memorable.


2) Force an association between that ad campaign and the product.

When we define a successful ad campaign in the above manner, we can see that remembering the ad does not always compel our applause. I remember vividly the look and, of course, the words of the "I Hate Steven Singer!" ad campaign, but I have no clue what they do or sell. An ad telling me to hate someone or something is memorable, but if it has nothing to do with the product, then remembering the ad has not helped them create brand association. When I need x, I don't think of Steven Singer because I don't know what Steven Singer is. I can't even be sure that "Steven Singer" is the name of the company or brand. They haven't made a sale from me as a result of their ad.

Now, it's hard to argue that the Snickers campaign doesn't fulfill both of the criteria above. Whenever we see the ad, we see the logo, and the campaign is different enough that we remember and talk about it. But let's just see what happens if I add one more caveat in my second criterion:

2) Force a pleasurable association between the ad campaign and the product.

Adding the word "pleasurable" now causes the campaign to fail for me. Why? Well as a lover of language, I feel assaulted every time explicit pains are taken to butcher language or to cliché it into obscurity. Some of the puns may cause a slight smirk:


But others are painful to pronounce or read:


The hard t's and p's and other consonants switching on and off with each other create an unpleasant sensation in the mouth. Just try pronouncing the two above. Not appetizing.

What's worse are the ones that sound like the mispronunciations we make when we're five years old and such mispronunciations were fun for their own sake:

Mt. Foodji

It sprains the imagination to come up with what exactly the food-related word has to do with the other, or what two words are safe from such an onslaught on language. Worst of all is the pervasive lack of cleverness. The original idea may have some merit, but every ad is described simply by the following formula:

  1. Take a word that has to do with food.
  2. Then take another word.
  3. Create a portmanteau of the two.

It isn't difficult to come up with your own. Here are some I just made:

  • Chocoroom
  • Parkaramel
  • Starving University
  • Yumusement
  • Foodseum

A little tagline would create enough context to make each ad seem coherent, and then you're done. Whoever came up with the campaign must have put some ad writers out of business. It reminds me of Reality TV in a way. Why pay actors and writers when one can put real people on screen and film them making out and arguing with one another? Why pay ad writers when you can come up with a campaign that five-year-olds can maintain?

So if you see the Snickers ads and you do indeed snicker, then maybe the campaign is working. As for me, I'm snickering at Snickers, not with them.