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Santa Cruz Hughes knew she was onto something when she got a call from her daughter at school. The incident she related: Kids in her class were picking up the phrase, "Not going anywhere for a while? Have a Snickers."

That was music to the ears of Ms. Hughes, 37, the senior marketing manager at M&M/Mars behind that successful campaign.

Working on the brand for four years, Ms. Hughes has helped shape the "Hungry? Why wait" strategy that has received creative accolades while substantially increasing consumption among its target group of young males.

Ms. Hughes says the goal of the campaign was to move forward Snickers' longtime theme of hunger satisfaction, initially executed by Bates Worldwide, New York.

When the agency was replaced in 1995 by BBDO Worldwide, New York, the agency and client decided to keep the product's positioning, she says, but give the "Snickers satisfies you" approach a less serious tact.

The goal was also to target the brand more closely to males age 18 to 22.

"We moved from a preoccupying hunger to satisfying hunger in a completely enjoyable way. From that the campaign was born," says Ms. Hughes, who adds that the result has been "a big selling idea"-an idea, according to Information Resources Inc., that's sold $277 million for the 52 weeks ending March 2, up 2.3% from the previous year.

The first spot began in September '95 and featured Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy-who had taken the team to the Super Bowl four times without a win-threatening the team couldn't leave the room without a commitment to win.

From there followed other executions including the "Team prayer" spot that good-naturedly took political correctness to new highs and the commercial that first introduced the bumbling, taciturn Clarence character, who accidentally freezes himself to a hockey rink and misspells the name Chiefs on a football field.

Media also shifted to reach the target. The mix was changed to 60% sports programming, and Ms. Hughes says :15s were created out of the :60s to spread the budget-measured at $42.2 million by Competitive Media Reporting in '96-over expensive sports buys. The plan this year is to take the campaign to print and radio.

Although in her nine years at Mars she's worked on several brands, including M&Ms, Skittles and Starburst, Ms. Hughes says Snickers might be the most enjoyable.

"It's everyone's favorite. And as a Latino female, I'm drawn to it because it's a brand that embraces all people," she says.

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