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Snickers satisfies need for authenticity with new selfie-driven effort

A recent deluge of me-too selfie campaigns lack the kind of authenticity required for success, but Snickers hits the nail on the head by updating its popular ?You?re Not You When You?re Hungry? campaign for the mobile era. 

While the earlier version of the campaign humorously depicts how people change when they are hungry, in the new effort, launched yesterday, Snickers invites consumers to share their hungry alter ego by uploading photos or videos of themselves. Consumers can also use a mobile-optimized meme generator to create a shareable image of who they turn into when hungry by picking from a number of templates. 

?User generated content is still a viable mechanism if the campaign is relevant and creates an authentic connection with an existing behavior,? said Tom Edwards, executive vice president of strategy and innovation at The Marketing Arm, Dallas. ?Where ?selfie? campaigns can go astray is when brands ask consumers to create content that are not natural extensions of their existing behavior. 

?We are still seeing creative briefs that are focused on creating authentic connections with consumers, fostering advocacy as well as connecting physical to digital,? he said. ?All of which are potentially ideal for leveraging user-generated content.?  

?The recently launched "Who are you when you're hungry?" Campaign by Snickers is an interesting take where the brand shifts directions from consumption to creation by turning over the You?re not you when you?re hungry campaign to consumers to tell their story with the winning content taking over Snickers YouTube channel for a day.?

Meme generation
The original Snickers campaign has drawn a lot of interest from consumers and the media because the theme is one that everyone can relate to. By extending the idea into a selfie campaign makes a lot of sense. 

For the new version, ?Who Are You When You?re Hungry,? there is a mobile-optimized campaign meme generator, snickersmeme.com, where consumers can choose from a number of different possible hungry versions of themselves, such as curmudgeon or diva. Once they upload a photo of themselves, the site will put their face on their hungry alter ego along with the hashtag #EatASNICKERS and copy that reads, for example: ?I?m a Diva when I?m hungry.?

Judges will choose 10 finalists from the submissions and consumers will be able to vote for their favorite online. The winning contestant will take over the YouTube home page for a da and its creator will receive $50,000. 


Selfie surge
The selfie reached new heights of awareness during the 2014 Oscars with the now-famous picture featuring Ellen DeGeneres and a bevy of movie stars that broke a tweeting record and which was a product placement for Samsung.  The ensuing 12 months has seen countless brands jump on board the trend, but many of the efforts seem forced and inauthentic, thereby undermining one of the strategy?s strengths. 

Brand interest in selfie campaigns continues to be high,? said Jeremy Sigel, director of mobile for North America at Essence. ?Consumers love them. 

?I do think brands need to do a better job identifying whether creating a platform that transforms consumers into stars equates to brand love,? he said. 

?It raises questions. Are consumers overshadowing the products they receive incentive to promote? Is the relationship between consumer and brand authentic?? 


Fueling the phenomenon
There is no denying that creating and sharing photos via a smartphone has enduring appeal for consumers. 
It is also commonly accepted that user-generated content can help a brand stimulate awareness and goodwill, giving consumers a reason to think about the brand the next time they are making a relevant purchase. 

When that user-generated content includes a picture of the consumer interacting with a brand?s product in some way or including a campaign hashtag, there is an implicit endorsement for the brand. For consumers, this is a personal interaction with a brand. 

However, too many marketers under value this exchange by merely offering entry into a sweepstakes when what consumers expect is to be part of an authentic experience. 

While more big brands are shifting budget to digital and mobile, many are still struggling with how to insert themselves into the conversation. 

Incentivizing submission and rewarding participation makes sense for user-generated campaigns, but this alone will not make an enduring impression on consumers.

?The advent of social media, reality television and advances in smartphone cameras has made 15-minutes of fame not only attainable, but an expectation,? Mr. Sigel said.

?Although selfie campaigns might lack innovation, brands appear happy to satisfy demand by continuing to create opportunities that fuel the phenomena.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Marketer, New York