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Robin Williams Misses the Sweet Spot for Snickers
By: Tom Roarty
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What is a great formula for success? Is it milk chocolate, nougat, caramel, and peanuts, or product promotions by Joe Pesci, Aretha Franklin, Betty White, and Rosanne Barr? Well, for those who cannot decide, you don’t have to thanks to Snickers, who combined the two with one of my favorite campaigns. The personalities captured both the mood and target audience in a fun, cohesive way, but in the campaign’s latest installment, the message and the fun falls short of the mark.
 
It seems like it always happens; you see a commercial, it goes away for a while, and than no matter what channel you are watching, there it is playing over and over, to the point where you never want to see it again. Such is the case with Snickers’ latest ad featuring Robin Williams. It is not so much the repetition of the spot as it is me wondering why the company agreed to go with Robin Williams. 
 
As I have mentioned many times in the past, BBDO, the creator of the campaign, is my all-time favorite agency as far as its creativity and ability to push the boundaries of its clients, but just because a formula works for some, it doesn’t mean that it will work for all. Even though the ad is consistent with its message compared to the previous ads in the campaign, the choice of this brand ambassador was subpar at best.
 
Personally, I am not a fan of Robin Williams, but looking at the spot objectively as an advertising vehicle, it is just weak. If you haven’t seen it, the premise is that a football team comes off the field looking for guidance from their coach (Robin Williams). Instead of giving his team the advice they need, he rambles like Mr. Williams tends to do. An assistant coach comes in and gives Robin a Snickers bar. Robin eats it, and the coach turns back into himself and amps up his team, who runs back onto the field. Meanwhile, Bobcat Goldthwait falls off the top of a cheerleading pyramid to end the spot. Only one question needs to be answered: Why?
 
Both Robin and Bobcat haven’t been relevant in years; literally, years! There can be a very shallow argument for supporting actor Bobcat in the spot since he, once in a while, will show up in a teen movie, so the younger end of the Snickers demographics may be able to associate with him, but Robin has not been in the spotlight for that age demographic for years. If there is a benefit, it may come down to economics.
 
When a commercial is written requiring a celebrity endorsement, you can’t just pick and choose whom you want. There are a variety of things to consider, which usually go in order from a wish list of actors and who’s willing and available to who the client can afford. I would like to think that the cast in place was not BBDO and Snickers’ first choice, but would another cast make a difference? I believe it would have (TMZ darling Mel Gibson, anyone?). Luckily, the parties involved are chance takers, and I know it won’t be long before we stop saying, “What the hell?” and start admiring their efforts again, because even the best can’t hit it out of the park on every swing.


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