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Campaign Spotlight

Candy Aims Print Ads at Consumers ‘Hungry’ for Redemption

Editors’ Note: In Advertising is coming to you on Tuesday because of the Presidents’ Day holiday. Look for the newsletter next week on its regular day, Monday.

An ad from the Snickers campaign.

The print version of a campaign for a popular candy brand is turning from fake ads to real coupons.

The candy is Snickers, sold by the Mars Chocolate North America division of Mars. For the last three years, Snickers has been the subject of a well-regarded campaign that carries the theme “You’re not you when you’re hungry,” which supplements the brand’s longtime slogan, “Snickers satisfies.”

The Snickers campaign, by BBDO New York, is best known for its television commercials, which feature pairs of celebrities in everyday situations like playing touch football, taking a road trip or attending a party. The stars include Betty White and Abe Vigoda, who kicked off the campaign with a spot in the Super Bowl in 2010; Aretha Franklin and Liza Minnelli; Roseanne Barr and Richard Lewis; Joe Pesci and Don Rickles; and, in the most recent commercial, introduced last month, Robin Williams and Bobcat Goldthwait.

The punch line of the commercials is that the celebrities are actually regular people who are behaving badly because they are hungry. Once they eat a Snickers bar, they become their usual, non-famous selves again.

The Snickers campaign has had a print element in addition to the commercials, composed of ads in magazines that expressed the idea of celebrities misbehaving in a different way. The magazine ads last year, tied to a National Football League sponsorship, featured two former football stars, Jerome Bettis and Joe Theismann, spoofing the concept of celebrity endorsements.

Magazine readers saw on the left side of a page an ad for a wacky product, endorsed by Mr. Bettis or Mr. Theismann, like a teddy bear encased in a snow globe, a line of “pro-matherapy” candles and thigh-high boots made of “game-grade footballs.” There was no indication the ads were not real other than the improbability that such oddball products would actually exist.

On the right side of the page, Mr. Bettis and Mr. Theismann returned, asking the readers to ignore or disregard their previous ads and apologizing because they “make bad decisions” or “have poor judgment” when they are hungry. Those ads included the Snickers logo and slogans.

For 2013, the print ads are taking another tack to bring to life the concept that hunger clouds decision-making. The new ads, which are running in issues of six magazines, use well-known brands in place of celebrities and include real discount coupons in place of fake ads for make-believe products.

The first ad in the new series is intended for hungry husbands, boyfriends and significant others. It offers a coupon good for 20 percent off the price of a bouquet from ProFlowers, which is redeemable online.

Underneath the coupon are these words: “If hunger caused a delayed reaction to ‘Is she prettier than me?,’ use this coupon. But next time, eat a Snickers.” And under the text are the “You’re not you when you’re hungry” and “Snickers satisfies” slogans.

The ad co-branded with ProFlowers, part of Provide Commerce, was timed to start running before Valentine’s Day, but the offer is good through March 31. The ad is appearing in Entertainment Weekly, ESPN the Magazine, In Touch Weekly, Life & Style Weekly, People and Sports Illustrated.

The discount coupon is also being offered in social media, on the Snickers fan page on Facebook and the brand’s Twitter feed.

“There are many opportunities to extend the campaign beyond television,” says Roy Benin, chief consumer officer at Mars Chocolate North America in Hackettstown, N.J., “in print and in digital.”

The coupon offers “a way for us to talk to men in a way they’ll say, ‘That’s me,’ have a chuckle and get rewarded with a discount,” he adds. “And women could find humor to it as well.”

Adding reality to the print portion of the campaign underlines that the campaign is “rooted in a universal truth,” Mr. Benin says, referring to the “You’re not you when you’re hungry” idea.

Executives are working on additional print ads offering discount coupons, he adds, as well as digital and in-store iterations.

Once the decision was made to feature a florist in the first ad, ProFlowers was selected to appear by the consumer promotions team at Mars Chocolate North America.

“We’ve shown lots of things that can go wrong” in the campaign, says Peter Kain, senior creative director at BBDO New York, and the goal of the new print ads is to offer “a funny way to atone for your hungry mistakes.”

The premise of the first ad is that “you’re in a relationship and you said the wrong thing, maybe because you’re hungry,” he adds.

From the beginning, the idea “was to use real companies and make them authentic coupons,” Mr. Kain says. “Stay tuned; we’re working on some more.”

“Snickers has so much equity in the area of hunger satisfaction,” he adds. “You get endless material out of it.”