INTERACTIVE: CASE STUDY/SNICKERS; Mars takes a walk on the wild side as Snickers gets wacky on the Net

Mairi Clark finds out what Mars has done to create a football-themed Snickers site with user involvement

Mairi Clark finds out what Mars has done to create a football-themed

Snickers site with user involvement



The Snickers site, MegaBite (www.snickers.com), is Mars’s first serious

attempt to get known on the Internet. Apart from the Snickers site, its

only other UK presence is for Pedigree Petfoods.



Recent above-the-line advertising for Mars doesn’t seem to have

stretched much beyond some new TV work featuring a building site and a

football crowd creating a Mexican wave. Add that to some fairly standard

press work and you come up with a staid, if quality, portfolio. Nothing

remotely as ground-breaking as Tango.



So is MegaBite the first sign of something more radical stirring within

Mars? The concept of targeting 13- to 24-year-old men with a site mainly

dedicated to football is reasonably obvious when you consider Snickers’

involvement with FIFA and its sponsorship of the Euro ’96 championship.



But there’s more to it than just football. Ultimately, 90 per cent of

the site will be given over to user control. At the moment, Megabite has

about 300 pages of trivia, with some football info and movie gossip

thrown in, but Mars has plans to have 2,000 pages by the end of 1996.

Users are asked to send in suggestions for future inclusion in the site,

and it currently runs review pages for travel and films. There is a

Snickers history page, with information on Snickers bars and recipes

for, among others, Snickers Al Fresco - made simply by ‘taking your

Snickers bar outside’. So far, the response has been good, with more

than 10,000 users replying in the first week.



The most popular aspect is likely to be the ‘penalty shoot-out’. Users

are asked to guess where in the goal a football will end up and where it

should end up to guarantee a goal. If you score three goals in a row,

you win a Snickers football. But it’s not that easy: to enter any of the

competitions, you have to fill in a questionnaire listing your age, e-

mail address and answer a tie-breaker question.



Gordon Storey, the external relations manager at Mars, says: ‘We see the

Internet as a forum for opinion and we want to understand how it works.

We want Snickers to be a brand for the youth market, to be street

credible, fun and irreverent. The Internet gave us the best chance to do

that.’



The site has been designed by the new-media agency, Hyperinteractive,

which won the pounds 300,000 account after a pitch orchestrated by

Snickers’ agency, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO. It takes advantage of new

technology to download in a reasonably speedy 30 seconds. As Felix

Velarde, a director of Hyperinteractive, explains: ‘Image compression is

one of our strengths and we have applied image compression routines that

make the site a lot quicker to load.’



Hopefully a US version will open soon. It is being developed by Magnet

Interactive, an American company, with input from AMV.



MegaBite is an informative site, with high entertainment value and is

well worth a visit. And yes, it does indicate a slight shift towards a

hipper strategy for Snickers. As Storey says: ‘The site represents where

we want Snickers to be. It’s consistent with our brand strategy. We want

it to be more wacky.’



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