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CREATIVE STRATEGY: Cheering on Mars Bars and their worthy goal

Recently, I've been working on a brand campaign for a B2B client. They've never done brand advertising before and are at the very beginning of a journey much more familiar in the B2C world.

Mars: TV ad features Just Play centres campaign

Mars: TV ad features Just Play centres campaign

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One of the creative teams has developed an idea built around a graphic device. A property.  In our industry, we’re often looking for a territory or a property – concepts which, in our society, are as old as the Ness of Brodgar.  

An advertising property is gold. And advertisers change or dump them at their peril. But as fashions change, there is a constant battle to stop the familiar becoming dull or irrelevant. Mars is a case in point. 

Like everyone of my generation, I grew up with Mars Bars and the slogan, "A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play". Now, in the era of morbidly obese children, how does the manufacturer of a lump of sugar promote its wares?

With a truth. Mars Bars are not appropriate food for anyone who spends their lives flopped in front of a computer screen. But they’re fine for people who play sport.  

This ad is more a PR film than anything. But it works because like the proposition for the product, its content is rooted in reality. 

The Mars website (click on the 'Watch our new TV ad' link) carries one of several edits of a film celebrating the completion of the Carperby project in Yorkshire, which itself is only one aspect of a much bigger, long-term programme. 

In partnership with the FA, Mars plans to build more than 100 Just Play centres. Ultimately, they hope to recruit 150,000 new players to our national game – a target that will be tracked via Sport England’s Active People Survey. 

Cynics will sigh at a confectioner associating itself with healthy pursuits. But I return to the fact that a lad of any age who’s flogged themselves round a footy pitch for 90 minutes is in no danger from some refined sugar.

Simon S Kershaw is a creative consultant and a former creative director at Craik Jones.

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