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Matt Williams: Super Bowl Snickers winner is a great campaign – but Canal+ is epic

Freddie Flintoff (a former cricketer) has a new show on Sky about fish and chips. That’s about as exciting as the adverts got in the UK during the Super Bowl.

Unlike in the States, it’s fair to say no-one on these shores was watching the NFL’s big game just for the ads.

You’ll have seen all the US Super Bowl epics by now. And you’ll probably have read which one picked up the most social buzz (although I’ve seen six or seven different winners crowned here, depending on the publication).

So it’s worthless me writing more about the Super Bowl brand winners and losers, or why dead children probably aren’t the best ways to sell insurance.

And anyway I’d just go and pick the Snickers ‘Brady Bunch’ ad as my favourite Super Bowl spot, just like everyone else has done.

But I do want to use this space to talk a little about what really impresses me most about this Snickers ad.

“You’re not you when you’re hungry” is a great strapline. And a very clever positioning. But even the smartest of strategies can lose its way after a while. Even the greatest stories can get tired.

Yet the guys at BBDO New York have consistently taken this formula and come out fighting. They constantly better themselves with delightful stories, perfectly cast celebrities and cheeky scripts bursting with attitude.

It only takes one element of that to go awry and throw it off course, and the whole campaign can appear past its sell by date.

We’ve seen it happen far too often. A new spot is rushed out to capitalize on the hype. Or the bigger budget that the client has been given off the back of the original ad’s success is used to detract from the original idea, rather than grow it.

Sadly Old Spice has gone that way a little – the original ‘Man Your Man Could Smell Like’ concept (originally with Isaiah Mustafa) is still used, but the executions aren’t activated with the same pizazz. The same has happened to Comparethemarket.com – I don’t mind the safari story that’s currently playing out, but I think even those at VCCP will probably be keen to forget the brief flirtation that the campaign had with Robert Webb.

We can even see how easy it is to destroy the aforementioned Snickers campaign. I’ve praised the team in the US for consistently doing such a great job, but the latest version of the campaign that the UK has served up (starring Rowan Atkinson) is, in my opinion, the weakest by some distance. A wasted opportunity with such a great character at the brand’s disposal.

So all credit to BBDO New York and Snickers for continuing to tread this delicate line with grace, and for triumphing on advertising’s biggest night. But when we’re talking consistency, someone else has stolen the limelight for me this week. It feels ridiculous ending an advertising blog during Super Bowl week by going to France, but if you’re looking for consistency, if you’re looking for a brand that takes a long-running campaign and always smashes it out the park with big, ambitious, joyous ideas, then please direct your attention to BETC Paris and Canal+.

I love the brand’s focus around great storytelling and great content. I love the tone of the campaign. And I love how every ad they produce can be so different yet still retain a similar style, a similar edge and a similar (brilliant) quality.

When ‘The Closet’ came out in 2009 it was one of the best ads of the decade. In 2011 they went one better with ‘The Bear’. And now BETC have produced a delightful new spot featuring Noah, unicorns and testicles. It’s everything you hope and expect from the Canal+ campaign and more.

And it’s why my favourite ad during Super Bowl week didn’t have anything to do with the Super Bowl at all.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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