Something Sweet To Chew On

There is a brilliant quote from Don Draper in AMC’s Mad Men, which is, “People want to be told what to do so badly that they’ll listen to anyone.”

Don Draper’s quote was in reference to cigarettes. But this also applies to candy and sugary beverages. While these products are not nearly in the same category, they both incorporate the point he is trying to make, which is that people want to be told that it’s ok to indulge in unhealthy choices.

The confectionary master, Mars Incorporated, nails Draper’s quote with their Snickers candy campaigns. Sure, we know that all the sugary goodness in a Snickers Bar is not a healthy food choice. But that’s why their advertisements are superb.

Now don’t get me wrong. The “occasional” candy bar is not the worst decision in the world and not nearly as detrimental as cigarettes. However, it’s a cheap, quick, calorie-dense food that leaves us feeling hungry with little to no nutritional value. The connection—as Neuroscience suggests—is that our attention is instinctively directed to anything that a previous experience indicates is potentially good or bad.

It is no surprise then that advertisers use this strategy to attract customers to their product as a way to direct previous experiences as pleasurable. Many of the most memorable ad campaigns tend to incorporate humor. People generally love to be entertained and humorous ads can help attract them to a brand’s message.

The Snickers ad from Super Bowl 50—featuring Willem Dafoe and Marilyn Monroe—is a great demonstration.

Agency Credits: BBDO New York


The reason why many marketers suggest using humor, is because it’s central to forming positive relationships. We buy from people we trust and like, and humor sets the tone for those relationships.

The nutrition label on a Snickers candy bar contains 27 grams of sugar, 33 grams of carbohydrates, only 1 gram of fiber, and 12 grams of fat (4.5 saturated). The Truth in Advertising Organization published a post on Do Snickers Really Satisfy?”, which challenges Snicker’s “You’re not you when you’re hungry” campaign.

Don Draper’s theory that, “People want to be told what to do so badly that they’ll listen to anyone,” which could also be said for our food choices. In an era of healthy alternatives, humor is a way to create positive feelings and persuade people that it’s ok to indulge – and Snickers gets that.


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