Garfield's AdReview

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What do Snickers and Phils share? A stupid idea

How often do you see it? An ad campaign based on exactly the same idea as a previous campaign.

Rhetorical question. It happens a lot, because sometimes people coincidentally get the same inspiration, because sometimes people get inspired unconsciously by somebody else's work, and because some people are just stinking thieves.

Here at AdReview, we don't really much care how derivative advertising is, so long as it is good. We're totally flummoxed, however, when two campaigns appear in close proximity, trading on the identical concept, and the concept just plain sucks.

Consider Snickers, the delicious and filling candy bar, and the Philadelphia Phillies, a baseball club that has made the AdReview staff suffer cruelly for 40 of the past 41 years, with no signs of stopping. Their campaigns share a "creative" conceit: that the product will reward you in unimaginable ways.

In one Snickers spot, for example, a working stiff named Fred rejuvenates himself with a candy bar and-the voice-over explains-"calls his wife to tell her he'll be working late, but accidentally dials a radio station. The ninth caller, Fred wins a trip to St. Louis. While visiting the Museum of Natural History, a hanging pteranodon unexpectedly falls. Fred pushes a man out of the way. It's star running back and paleontology buff Marshall Faulk. Out of gratitude, the Rams change their name to the St. Louis Freds. Eat a Snickers and have an NFL team named after you."

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Not only is it embarrassingly unfunny, why utterly obscure two actual reasons to eat Snickers (see "delicious" and "filling" above) with nonsensical hyperbole?

That's rhetorical, too. Hard to believe the same agency ( BBDO, New York) created the brilliant "Not going anywhere for awhile? Grab a Snickers" campaign that could've-and should've-run for 20 years.

OK, maybe you can argue that the youthful target audience just doesn't go in for brand benefits; it needs an ironic, post-modern, anti-advertising sort of appeal. We're not buying that claptrap, but it surely fails to explain what the Phillies are up to. (No, not the lack of power and woeful middle relief. The ad campaign.)

These are three spots, produced in-house, aiming to generate excitement and ticket sales for the star-studded 2005 Phils in the most competitive division in baseball. So naturally the ads depict absurd situations in which peoples' lives are changed by events on the field. In one, a woman with a huge, Cyrano-like nose, is struck by a Jim Thome homerun, and the horsehide rhinoplasty makes her beautiful. In another, two guys have popcorn spilled on them by two female fans cheering a Billy Wagner strikeout. In the ensuing cleanup, romance blooms.

It's all supposed to silly and self-mocking. But it's just criminally irrelevant. People go to baseball games to see the teams, to see the park, to see the action, to eat the food, to drink the beer, to treat the kids, to relive their childhoods, to cheer heroics, to boo incompetence, to impress their dates, to forget their own lives of quiet desperation. Is there anyone blind or foolish enough not to see rich material there for advertising?

Never mind. Rhetorical question.

Snickers 1star

Philadelphia Phillies 1 star


Ad: Snickers

Agency: BBDO, New York

Ad: Philadelphia Phillies

Agency: In-house

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