A Brief History of Snickers in India
Before I start the main context of this post, let me give your a brief history of Snickers Ads in India.
Snickers had been criticized before by ad gurus when they launched their first extension of the global campaign in India in 2012.
Some people felt although the ads had a brilliant insight for the USA, it did not really make sense to the Indian context. There was less “Indian-ness” to the ad.
Take a look it it below if you hadn’t seen it earlier.
This was a direct extension of their “You are not yourself when you are hungry” campaign which has been running for a while now globally. Take a look at the global one, for comparison.
It doesn’t make complete sense, but it doesn’t need to be. The brand tries to be funny and for me, it gets there in all the ad campaigns.
But somehow, the Indian ad falls short of being funny to me. Well, maybe its just that I have seen better versions before. Or, maybe the value proposition for Snickers did not really seem so clear to me.
I mean, the other ads play on famous characters who were known to be like that like Mr. Bean instead of the ninja. That was hilarious. But Rekha and Urmila in the Indian version were not funny to me.
So, whats the new thing with Snickers?
Anyway, this post isn’t about the distant past. The past was just so that you get some background to the brand communication.
This post is about the latest move by Snickers to poke fun into its audience.
A few months ago Snickers did something to their brand name on the packaging.
They replaced it with Indian words and a few English ones.
And they replaced it such that it could mean something to people. Check out their posts on Instagram to get an idea.
If you watched the video (at least a few seconds, scroll back up and watch it if you didn’t), you’d know whole scene looks so forcefully fitted.
Anyway, I forgive that too like I forgave Snickers for its 2012 advertising. But the concept really is misplaced. I am not sure even the kids who acted in that video really felt it was relevant for them.
What was Snickers thinking?
I understand Snickers thought people would be excited to see the Indian sounding words on the wrapper. They must have thought that they would be able to ignite some amount of word of mouth, possibly creating a trend of gifting to each other by friends who are likely to call each other by those names.
The Caveat which they didn’t take into account
But on the other hand, I am not sure if people would really like being called “Confused” or a “Tubelight”. I mean it would be outright insulting and insensitive, possibly leaving a strong distaste for a brand in the memory of the “victims”.
In fact, some of these words are used by people to bully others. Or for people they dislike or are dismissive to. I do not think any brand should take any risky route where they promote negative behavior.
Check out the some of words being used as per AFAQs:
English: Clueless, Rowdy, Crazy, Princess, Drama Queen, Junglee, Confused, Tubelight
Hindi: Bhukkad, Laatsahab, Bheja Fry, Nautanki
Tamil: Vetti-scene, Pokkiri, Tension-party
Malayalam: Freaken, Kattapost, Scene contra, Kalippan
Telugu: Dookudu, Neerasam, Pokiri
Kannada: Kalakaar, Blade, Nazuk Rani, Kirik
Gujarati: Rajkumari, Ghelo, Dhuni
Marathi: Naatki, Beparwa, Sanki
I do not know the meaning of all the words, but those that I understood here are not so great. There is little positive about being called “Nautanki”.
But hey, Didn’t Coca Cola do this before you?
At some level, it feels like they tried to copy Coca Cola labeling with popular names of people. But they fell short because they did not work as hard as Coke guys in trying to find out what works.
They just put together a bunch of words that have a negative connotation among college kids and printed them in place of their brand name.
Even if they did work hard, I feel the concept of people acting weirdly when hungry doesn’t connect too well with Indians. Indians are weird due to many things, but not usually due to hunger.
The Disconnect in the Concept
Come on, we have a thousand different snacks with us and we create snacking occasions out of nothing. You can actually call us weird due to the snacking that we do. If you have traveled in a long train journey with an Indian family, you would get what I am referring to.
When a neighbor visits us, we sit and have tea and biscuits. Nobody is hungry, but drinking tea becomes a must when we have guests.
When you see its not yet time for dinner, and you feel hungry already, you just go out. The samosa wala uncle is right next door. Or just take your favourite Haldiram pack out and munch it.
Or maybe down in the Southern parts, just get a quick dosa or a vada pav. The possibilities are endless. Nobody with cash is possibly going nuts.
I feel that’s where the problem lies in the origin. The campaign originated in the US, where they could have possibly looked at consumer behaviors of Americans.
And the entire existence of Snickers in India or anywhere else had been force-fitted to align with the American campaign.
But does the consumer behavior which drove the campaign in the US, apply everywhere?
In my opinion, definitely not!
What I believe!
I believe Snickers should have maintained its value proposition of killing hunger, but adopted a more localized theme campaign.
The tagline probably still could apply. But with more insights on Indian consumer behavior, or simply something related to being low in energy (like the Rugby ad or the lumberjack ad, or even the Ninja ad where people slow down or act weak due to hunger).
Not every Indian could relate to throwing tantrums when hungry.
But we could probably relate to someone transforming to Inzamam-ul-Haq while taking a run in a cricket match due to hunger. Feed him Snickers and he becomes Shahid Afridi again. Howzat sir!!!
Well, these are just strictly my opinions. You are free to have your own, and if you feel like sharing them, please do drop your comments in the section below.
That’s it for now!