Goodness Knows Flubs Are Encouraged in New Mars Ad

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Mars is having novices sell the story of its snack bars, called GoodnessKnows, in a new campaign following the brand's national debut.

The "better for you" snack bar line debuted in the Denver and Boulder areas in 2010. A national rollout and marketing push for GoodnessKnows, or as the company writes it, goodnessknows, began in 2015.

For Mars, which leads the U.S. confectionery category, grabbing a bigger bite of the snack bar category will take more time. It is trying to expand in a sector where shelves are lined with established brands such as General Mills' Nature Valley, Clif Bar and Kind.

General Mills holds a 21.6% share in the $6.8 billion U.S. snack bar category, followed by Clif Bar (13.4%), Kellogg Co. (12%) and Kind (9.8%), according to Euromonitor International. Kellogg lost share in 2016 while the other three top players grew, Euromonitor data showed.

"It's a crowded category and we're breaking through and sales are doing well," said GoodnessKnows Senior Brand Manager Eric Epstein.

After expanding its distribution, GoodnessKnows is now expanding its line with three new flavors: mixed berries, almond and dark chocolate; blueberry, almond and dark chocolate; and strawberry, peanuts and dark chocolate. Like the first three flavors, each product contains four squares in a pack that total 150 calories.

Ads in 2015 and 2016 showed actors portraying trying to do good things but faltering a bit along the way. In one, for example, a woman hits the gym but doesn't quite know the steps in class and winds up hitting a woman beside her during a routine.

"We've tried to celebrate people's attempts at self-improvement, even if those attempts are imperfect," Mr. Epstein said. "In this campaign, we took a step further in terms of authenticity."

In the new ads, which begin airing today, Goodnessknows shows how there can be slipups when people are trying to come up with jingles (above) or act in commercials (below).

The commercials show backstage jitters, flubs and other moments, and even show people messing up the product name. The moments were not staged, Mr. Epstein said.

"We had to let go of some branding norms," he said. "It's O.K. if they mess up the name of the brand, things like that that you're used to safeguarding." He acknowledged that the campaign has a bit of a meta concept, focusing on the making of the advertising.

Both the new and prior campaigns carry the tagline "Try a Little Goodness."

The new work comes from longtime Mars agency BBDO, with Mediacom and Starcom handling media.

Two 30-second spots will air on TV. There are also 15-second ones highlighting certain people (below) that will run on TV and online, along with the 80-second compilation that will run online only. Mr. Epstein said spending would be "pretty robust" and equivalent to last year's spending, without disclosing specific figures.

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