Snickers leverage global “Economies of ideas”

The key to global brand success is to “find stories that are universal ideas”, applicable across different geographies and demographics, according to Bruce McColl, CMO of Mars, in a recent interview in Marketing magazine.

His favourite example of such “big, portable narratives” is the Snickers “You’re not you when you’re hungry” campaign. And what a campaign this is. It is running in over 50 countries, and has built business in many of these, including reversing declining volume sales in the US and growing volume +8.0%, 2.4 x the category growth rate.

What can we learn about global branding from Snickers?

1. Economies of ideas, not economies of scale

The biggest benefit of the Snickers campaign was what we call “economies of ideas”, quickly sharing bigger, better ideas, and not economies of scale from sharing production costs. This is why we recommend that global brand teams focus on creating big brand ideas that can travel, not being the “brand police” trying to enforce 100% consistency.

2. Search for a universal human truth

The Snickers team and their global agency, BBDO, carried out qual research to search for a human truth that worked across different markets. They discovered that guys seek mate acceptance and membership of the “male pack‟, and that when they’re hungry, they’re not themselves and their place is the pack is threatened.

This insight around male belonging was consistent with the brand’s heritage in each market. Furthermore, the insight was one that a broader audience than simply young guys could connect with.

3. Match the human truth with a brand truth

Snickers was well positioned to respond to the human truth about what hunger does to you. The idea for the brand was: “A proper, nut-filled Snickers sorts out  hunger and restore your role in the pack”. What I really like about this idea is the way the product is right at the heart of it.
4. Local amplification
Snickers marketing teams were encouraged to get the brand ideas into popular culture, finding the big, populist TV moments that worked in their markets. For example, in the USA this meant the Super Bowl. Interest was built around the campaign prior to the event through a teaser video and PR. In Germany, where celebrities weren’t as big a draw, the talk was driven around “You‟re
not yourself‟ moments happening in real time in the real world by mocking events from the news that week.
In conclusion, the Snickers campaign shows how a great global campaign comes from discovering a universal human truth your brand can answer, and then amplifying this in your key markets.