Snickers wasted $5 million dollars for their live Super Bowl Ad. Here is how they should have spent it
Before I write anymore, I think it’s important to note that hindsight is 20/20. With that out of the way, let’s talk about how Snickers wasted $5 million dollars for an unmemorable ad at this year’s Super Bowl 51.
The Hype Behind Live Video
Live video seems to be slowly creeping into the marketing space, take a look at the emergence of Facebook Live over the last year. Hoping to take advantage of this trend, Snickers attempted to incorporate this live aspect into their 30 second ad with actor Adam Driver.
For those of us who didn’t see the ad or don’t remember it (I don’t blame you), it opens to a western set where Adam Driver emerges from a building mentioning the score of the game when the ad aired (21-3). His co-actors attempt to follow the script but clearly Driver’s character is out of sync with the rest of the actors. His mistiming results in awkward scenes and the entire set collapsing. The ad closes with, “YOU RUIN LIVE SUPER BOWL COMMERCIALS WHEN YOU’RE HUNGRY”.
After the 30 second ad, I was both confused and unengaged. I’m sure that’s not the reaction Snickers wanted.
Forcing a Square Peg into a Round Hole
After discussing the best and worst ads of the Super Bowl, I wondered why the Snickers ad has such a lack-luster result. After rewatching the ad, the elements for a good ad were there. So why was Snickers $5 million dollar live ad such a flop?
To start, it felt as though the team behind the ad were told to do a live ad, regardless of whether that made the most sense or not. What resulted was highlighting the live aspect of the ad in a very forced and direct manner to meet that requirement. Yes, Adam Driver mentioned the live score of the game. Yes, the ad’s closing message focused on the live aspect. But was it compelling?
Something that comes to mind is whether or not the ad Snickers aired needed to be live to make sense? Without the mention of the live game score, Adam Driver could have easily just been out of sync with the timing and the resulting scenes still could have occurred with the same effect. Take out the “LIVE” part of the copy, and the closing scene could still read, “YOU RUIN SUPER BOWL COMMERCIALS WHEN YOU’RE HUNGRY”. I’d argue that this ad would have close to the same impact as the live one.
There’s definitely something catchy about the live aspect of an ad during the super bowl but I don’t believe the Snickers team used this new medium to its full potential. Again, hindsight is 20/20 and hell, I’m sure some people would have thought that the ad I’m about to propose would have been a flop as well. But, given the task to create a live Super Bowl ad, I would have tried to focus on the live game as much as possible rather than the live aspect of the ad.
What They Should Have Aired
The opening scene opens on a landscape of foggy hills. It’s eerily silent as the camera pans over the countryside. BOOM! A cannon fires and breaks the silence. Now the scene is hectic. The camera shows an army of redcoats firing and shouting. As the scene evolves, it’s clear that we are in a battle during the American Civil War.
We’ve yet to see the army opposing the red-coats. With the shouts and gunfire still happening, the camera pans away from the redcoats. Passing through the fog, we approach a wall made of stone. The noise of the battle becomes quieter. Outlines of soldiers emerge and we begin to make out who the fierce Patriots who fight for America’s independence are. Low and behold, quivering and hiding behind the wall are actors known for their awkwardness, Jack McBrayer (30 Rock’s Kenneth Parcell) and Michael Cera (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), dressed in typical American civil war uniforms.
The two are frightened and talking about how British Rule isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be. “I could learn to like tea”, says McBrayer’s character. To which Cera’s character responds, “I don’t like visiting my dentist anyway”.
As the camera pans up into the fog, you continue to hear them talk about the adjustments they will make after the British win the war and retake the colonies. With the camera now only showing the fog, the text, “YOU’RE NOT YOU WHEN YOU’RE HUNGRY”, emerge contrasted against the white background.
Why is this a Better Ad?
For one, because I came up with it. In all seriousness, I believe this ad would have been received much better than the western Snickers ad for a couple reasons. To start, the live aspect of the ad isn’t highlighted as heavily. The viewers are able to understand this ad is live without being told directly because of what was happening during the game before the ad aired. In this case, the Patriots aren’t “themselves” and are getting destroyed (21-3) in what many thought was going to be an easy win for them.
Additionally, the ad is more relevant to the viewers. While the original Snickers ad features a western set that doesn’t have any ties to either Snickers or football, this ad revolves around one of the teams playing in the game. Finally, this ad stays more consistent with Snickers branding. The deviation from Snickers current slogan, “You’re not you when you’re hungry”, to, “You ruin live super bowl commercials when you’re hungry”, made it hard to immediately recognize the Snickers brand.
Difficulties in Executing This Live Ad
No one can predict the future and that’s what makes executing this ad difficult. I don’t think anyone could have predicted that the Patriots would have been down that much at the time of the ad airing. But, by recognizing the hypothetical outcomes, we can prepare ads for each outcome.
For example, if the score was reversed and the Patriots were winning while the Falcons struggled to play well, there could have been an alternative ad ready to roll that had a penguin where we expected a Falcon. With enough budget set aside, Snickers could have had multiple ads ready to run depending on the situation of the live game.
Why I Really Wish They Did My Ad
Imagine seeing that ad making fun of the Patriots performance midway through the Super Bowl. 21-3, there is no way they are coming back. And then it begins to happen. Julian Edelman makes that incredible catch, the game goes into overtime (the first time in Super Bowl History), and finally the Patriots run the ball in for the winning touchdown.
Fans everywhere are stunned. Celebrations occur while others are still in silence asking themselves, "how did that just happen?”. Eventually when the TV cuts to a commercial break, a video featuring Tom Brady and Bill Belichick holding up the Super Bowl Trophy is shown. It’s silent for awhile until the sound of cheering begins to become louder.
A voice reads over the words that show up on the screen alongside the Snickers logo. “Better? Better.”