Snickers Understands the Opportunity in Search

Snickers used search engines to target customers who were making misspellings during search. This cost-effective campaign reached over 500,000 people in 2 days.

How did it work? As explained on a Google article, “Each time someone misspelled a word, they were given a tailored message to “Grab yourself a Snikkers” as “Yu cant spel properlie wen hungrie.” Clicking the ad brought the customer to YoureNotYouWhenYoureHungry.com.

This is the most brilliant example of search engine marketing I’ve seen in quite a while. And the lessons here extend beyond search engine marketing to search generally, and understanding audience and opportunity. What makes this campaign so great?

Integration across mediums – Integrated Marketing is not new, but this is clever integration of an offline campaign that many of us already know to the online world: Snickers’ “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry.” You’ve probably seen the “diva” commercials of someone being hungry and acting moody, then returning to themselves after being given a Snickers. With that familiarity, I know what Snickers is referring to when the campaign ad comes up in search.

Seizing Opportunity– This year, a big trend has been ‘real-time marketing‘ on Twitter. We saw it with Oreo and Audi in the Super Bowl when the lights went out.This week, we saw it with the birth of the royal baby. What is real-time marketing other than taking advantage of an OPPORTUNITY to reach out to an audience and connect with them on a common event or cultural experience? Of course, this type of strategy has been around for ages. Find someone when they’re in need of your product and they’re more likely to buy. But this is a particularly clever way of engaging an audience in that situation and frame of mind.

The search campaign here comes off as an almost secret finding for the searcher, like a treasure hunt they didn’t know they were a part of. There you are browsing for something – like business -, you make a misspelling, are probably frustrated by it, and out of left field comes this funny little find. Hence, an OPPORTUNITY for the target audience to interact with Snickers is created. Who wouldn’t chuckle at someone joking that “Yu cant spel properlie wen hungrie.” at a time like this? It feels like the ad was targeted specifically to you. That’s what I mean when I mention the ‘situation’ and ‘frame of mind’ below.

The video below quickly gives a sense of how Snickers identified an opportunity to target an audience (in this case, young adults who are likely bored, hungry for a snack, and appreciate creativity and humor from a brand), and used search as a creative way of connecting. Though I’m not sure what level of competition they had for the misspelled words, I imagine it wasn’t too great when compared to trying to bid on real spellings for a targeted keyword.

Understanding search behavior – Snickers identified common misspellings of key words. As the video claims, people ‘make spelling mistakes when they’re hungry.’ Though I don’t know about the research on that, I can say that people make spelling mistakes all the time in search. And aren’t we all always hungry for a snack, particularly something sweet?

Meeting Your target demographic on their turf – Snickers targets their audience WHERE their audience is, in the situation and frame of mind that makes them ready to purchase. Let me explain. Who eats Snickers? Well, just about everybody (though I’m a Charleston Chew guy myself). But the campaign uses an odd sense of humor to appeal to younger folks and that busy lifestyle we all experience that makes quick snacks like candy bars an easy option. The video indicates the real target is the bored person at work who is stuck at a computer. And what office doesn’t have a vending machine nearby, or a convenient store around the corner? We’ve seen this sort of targeting in other chocolate bar ads, a la “Gimmie a break” indicating the snack as a quick escape from the drudgery of everyday life.

The resulting experience for the searcher? I didn’t mean to show up at this misspelled search result but, behold, I’m not here alone… Snickers is here too, they’ve made this mistake, and they understand WHY I’m here.

Bringing this all together, I love this example because it shows how one brand cleverly reached an audience on a small budget using something we often talk about, search engines, but don’t always quite realize their full potential.

This is a great example I plan to show in my class to emphasize the importance of search engines, and how they can be used to target audiences (I introduce targeting via search in Writing Across Platforms). I’m sure it will spark discussion and some creativity!

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