Snickers and Mr. T: Offensive or Funny?
Mars Inc., the parent company that owned and marketed Snickers chocolate candy launched an advertising campaign featuring the celebrity Mr. T. The campaign slogan, “Get Some Nuts,” was created by Abbot Mead Vickers BBDO, an Omnicom-owned UK agency that aired three 30-second spots Soccer Game, Speed Walker, and Swimming Pool. Mars Inc., discontinued the Speed Walker television spot in the U.K. because people in the U.S. felt the commercial was insulting. From a learning perspective, this critical incident places the student in a decision-making role of judging if this was the best decision under the circumstances. The critical incident illustrates the conundrum marketers face with the need for brands to maintain a consistently positive image on a global scale. The critical incident also illustrates the fine line advertisers walk in not offending an audience segment with humor.
Learning Outcomes (LO)
After reading this incident and answering the questions, a student should be able to:
• LO1: Distinguish the “offensiveness” factor of advertising in one country vs. another
• LO2: Analyze the challenge posed between advertising’s impact and consumers’ interpretation of its appropriateness.
• LO3: Formulate rationale to continue or discontinue a television commercial based on consumer reaction if this happened today.
This critical incident could be used in an introductory undergraduate marketing, advertising or public relations course ideally when the instructor is covering advertising regulation and ethics.