Kind re-ignites feud with Clif Bar in biggest-ever campaign for new energy bars
On the heels of Kind Healthy Snacks debuting a new line of energy bars, the New York-based snack maker is offering consumers $100 to eat any energy bar—even one from a rival brand—as part of its largest-ever advertising campaign, which directly swipes at competitor Clif Bar for its high sugar content.
With the official launch today of Kind Energy, the company’s first purpose-made energy bar since it was founded in 2004, Kind is encouraging consumers to eat the product when it’s designed to be eaten: before physical activity, when the human body needs excess calories to perform.
Created with Peanut Butter & Imagination, the campaign takes aim at Clif for prominently using brown rice syrup—a type of sugar found in many packaged foods—in its products, showing the viscous sugar flowing from a Clif wrapper in a TV and online video spot that will air through the end of the year.
The new energy bars will continue Kind’s commitment to having a “nutritionally dense first ingredient” in its products, says Daniel Lubetzky, founder and executive chairman of Kind.
The snack maker’s campaign, which is also being supported by TikTok influencers, will be underscored by the “Kind Energy Pledge,” which asks consumers to vow to only eat energy bars before physical activity. The first 1,000 people to sign the pledge online and show a receipt for any energy bar, Kind or not, will receive checks for $100 to “use towards a future fitness-related expense,” the company says.
For the uninitiated, Kind and Clif have been engaged in a tit-for-tat brand feud since March 2019, when Clif took out a full-page print ad in the New York Times calling on Kind to switch to organic ingredients, which it first began to do in 2003. Styled as an open letter to Kind’s Daniel Lubetzky, Clif’s co-CEOs Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford even offered Kind 10 tons of organic ingredients to get the ball rolling.
In response, Kind promptly launched a TV ad, again criticizing Clif’s use of brown rice syrup as the first ingredient in some of its snack bars. (The first ingredient of the Kind bar shown in that particular commercial is almonds).
The feud then spread to social media, with Kind fighting back against Clif’s organic-centric marketing, saying “brown rice syrup is sugar, whether it’s organic or not.”
In turn, Clif dug in with its organic commitment: “Growing the organic movement is our goal. … If companies organically-sourced even just a small percentage of their ingredients, we could make a profound impact collectively,” the company said in a statement provided to Ad Age at the time.
To support its new marketing efforts, Kind commissioned a third-party research firm which found 75% of respondents consume “the top-selling energy bar” before low-impact activities such as shopping, watching TV or working at a desk.
“Energy bars are typically higher in calories, carbohydrates and sugar and should not be eaten before being sedentary as your body won't be challenged to metabolize the energy efficiently,” says Stephanie Csaszar, a registered dietician and nutrition expert at Kind, who notes that snack bars are better suited to accompany non-strenuous activities and to be eaten between meals.