In Saudi? Feeling hungry? You may have to wait a little longer to grab a bite of your favorite Snickers. The snack brand, which goes by the tag line ‘feeling hungry’, has been forced to apologize and pull its latest in-store activation in Saudi after consumers complained via social media about the words being used by Snickers on the bar’s packaging.
Using local terms such as “troublemaker”, “annoyed”, and “careless”, the brand aimed to build on its promise of being the snack that beats away hunger with Saudi consumers. However, the campaign which was launched at the end of last year hasn’t been universally well received by Saudi consumers, with a number of them tweeting their distaste and requesting the Ministry of Trade and Investment take action.
تسويق غبي وساذج بأخلاق شوارعية
— مقاطعة #خلك_واعي (@1MOGAT) January 1, 2017
In response to consumer complaints the Ministry of Trade and Investment tweeted that it had considered the language used on the Snickers bars to be inappropriate for public use, and that it had called in a representative from Mars, the producer of Snickers, to ensure that the activation would not be repeated.
لوجود عبارات خارجة عن الذوق العام على منتج شوكلاتة، تم استدعاء الشركة وتطبيق الإجراءات وأخذ التعهد عليهم بعدم تكرار ذلك. https://t.co/THfsbR867u
— وزارة التجارة والاستثمار (@SaudiMCI) January 4, 2017
Public reaction to the in-store activation by Snickers has been sharply divided. Many young Saudis have applauded the company’s use of the Saudi dialect in a global campaign. Older Saudi consumers have objected to the language used, claiming that it’s not in keeping with the country’s values.
Speaking to Digital Boom, unconventional brand and marketing advisor Said Baaghil praised the concept behind the campaign, but criticized the brand’s lack of cultural awareness.
“I like the campaign very much but execution was done poorly,” said Baaghil. “They should have considered all stakeholders, but they only focused on consumers. Today we have mediums that exposes marketing to all, such as social media. Mars, the owner of Snickers, believe that segmentation is dead and everyone needs a candy bar. The insight works very well for them but we need to consider culture, norms and habits when addressing different national groups. When in Rome isn’t always the same as when in Riyadh.”