Snickers asks buyers to pick annoying phrase

By Michael McCarthy


Snickers wants consumers to play their own version of “You Make the Call” by picking the “Most Annoying Phrase of 2000.”

Consumers’ online votes will determine the content of a Snickers commercial during CBS’ broadcast of Super Bowl XXXV on Jan. 28.

M&M/Mars is inviting consumers to visit and vote for the cliché that annoyed them most last year. The winning — or losing — phrase gets “crunched out” in an ad for the new “Snickers Cruncher” candy bar.

“The best way to measure what’s on consumers’ minds is to go ask them,” says Bob Gamgort, general manager for M&M/Mars’ chocolate unit. Says Charlie Miesmer, senior executive creative director of ad agency BBDO: “People like to get involved.”

Online visitors may pick from three phrases: “Is that Your Final Answer?”; “Whassup?!”; and “I demand a recount.” Those finalists beat out such contenders as “Who let the dogs out?” and “Whatever” in a national poll conducted by Yankelovich Partners.

Voting runs through Jan. 23. Snickers will run one third-quarter and possibly one pre-kick-off commercial from BBDO.

The first shows a street vendor selling talking dolls that spout the phrases consumers want to crunch most. Among them: “I love you — but I’m not in love with you”; “Because I’m your mother, that’s why”; and “Don’t go there.” The spot then shows a consumer crunching the doll with the “most annoying” phrase before closing with a doll that says: “That’s all right. It happens to lots of guys.” In another ad, a grinning grandmother pushes a large couch out a window — thereby “crunching” a car with an annoying alarm.

Snickers is the latest advertiser to experiment with “hybrid” commercials that link TV and the Web. “It’s the first step toward convergence,” says Marc Ryan, director of media research for AdRelevance.

Others inviting consumers to play creative director: Anheuser-Busch recently ran a hybrid “Whassup?!” spot called “Language Tapes” that urges consumers to visit and learn how consumers around the world say “Whassup?!”

Energizer is airing “parody” commercials that rely on the curiosity of consumers to spot Web site addresses in the ads and visit them on their own.

Nike ran “cliffhanger” TV spots starring Marion Jones and Mark McGwire that allowed consumers to pick their own endings.

Hybrid ads may be the future, but they are difficult to pull off. Some TV networks still are reluctant to air spots that, in effect, urge consumers to turn off the TV and turn on the computer.