Brand: Slim Jim
Link: Not Yet
Target: Teen Males
A skinny, shirtless teenage skater hovers at the edge of an indoor tube, afraid to take the plunge. A man with hummingbird wings beating frantically taunts him like the demon on his shoulder – making chicken noises and says, “snap” repeatedly, finally hitting the boy with a Slim Jim (although the logo is not evident at this point). The teenager takes the plunge and crashes disasterously, falling of the far edge of the pipe and catching a ladder as he crashes to the ground. He catches a slim jim that the fairy devil tosses to him as the devil’s face takes full frame and he says “Snap into a Slim Jim,” while crunching on one. The spot ends with the Slim Jim logo.
The spot is shot in video and looks like reality tv. It seems to be modeled after the highly successful MTV program Jackass. There is an edgy, gritty feel to this spot that is very unlike other snack advertising. It seems safe to say that the approach will not be copied by snackwells or Nestle. This spot has a very distinctive attitude that is consistent with prior brand commercials, including a 2001 campaign.
Slim Jim is owned by ConAgra and here is a statement from ConAgra’s website:
Slim Jim is the unconventional snack with an exciting, distinctive beefy taste teens love. Slim Jim’s irreverent “in your face” attitude is captured in its advertising, sponsorships and promotions.
The advertising really is ‘in your face’ and is distinctive for its category. It doesn’t hesitate to offend those not in the target audience. So where is the problem?
In spite of the uniqueness of the execution, we believe that ConAgra’s positioning of Slim Jim does create overall problems for ownability and a value proposition that may be a bit slim. The first worry is that the spot makes fun of the brand lover. This is the ‘jackass’ who is goaded into doing something he doesn’t really want to and then ends up getting hurt, and looking like an ass. While MTV’s success with this format shows that teenage boys really do have an affinity for this character, it’s less clear here than in earlier spots that there is any benefit for the brand lover himself. The brand gets the last laugh here, smirking into the camera as the teenage brand lover lies in the corner in a pile of wreckage. So the problem with the value proposition is that it is all attitude and no promise. Slim Jim is not really promising to make you cooler in this spot (whereas Jackass pulls this off by making the idiots doing the stupid tricks celebrities), only showing that the brand itself is cool.
The second question is ownability. Being edgy and in-your-face is great as long as it is authentic. While this spot is unique among category advertising, it is a blatant copy of the reality TV format. And that makes it feel less ownable. To make ‘in your face’ work, the execution needs to have some consistency beyond attitude. Executionally, this feels very different than other Slim Jim advertising (the spot from 2001 at least had a happy ending as the Slim Jim’s efforts in the boy’s stomach to drown him get him mouth-to-mouth from a hot lifeguard). A lack of consistency can kill a campaign that is based primarily on attitude.
Finally, the branding in this spot could be stronger. We don’t hear ‘Slim Jim’ until the last 10 seconds and see the logo only in the last two. The executional style is not recognizable enough to carry the load of branding for the first 20 seconds.
Branding Bottom Line:
Slim Jim barks but we don’t bite.