IDEA: It's been two decades since "Macho Man" Randy Savage bellowed at young men to "Snap into a Slim Jim." Many in the current target market for the ConAgra meat sticks (males 18-25, mostly) weren't even born then. Yet the line has staying power—people know it even as the brand has tried to move away from it (most recently in the "Spicy Side" ads from Venables Bell & Partners).
Now, DDB California revives the line beginning with a charmingly goofy :30 that tells the story of one bro's epic day. "It's what people know and love about the brand," group creative director Travis Parr said of the famous old tagline. "ConAgra worried it had too much baggage or might make them seem old. But they finally decided it was cool."
COPYWRITING: The spot tells a straightforward story—guy grabs a Slim Jim, meets some girls, goes to a party—but the narrative is chopped up and full of weird, random moments. (He and his buddies dance a bit too giddily outside a convenience store, joined by a clerk and a cop. A goat, inexplicably, is one of the party guests.)
For the voiceover, the actors chanted lines that sum up each vignette: "Meat sticks!" "Bro sticks!" "Pro sticks!" "Meat sticks!" "Hey sticks!" "Nay sticks!" "Hooray sticks!" "Meat sticks!" There's no other dialogue.
"We bought quite a few rhyming dictionaries," Parr joked. "Epic days often include private jets or a million hot girls. We wanted to be a little more true to how our target sees an epic day. It's very epic for him, but maybe not in the eyes of other people."
A voiceover says at the end: "Snap into a goat party. Snap into a Slim Jim." (The tagline is also shown on screen.)
FILMING/ART DIRECTION: The Perlorian Brothers shot the ad over three days in their home base of Toronto. "They shot the boards as we had imagined them, but with a really odd twist on every scene," Parr said.
Everything is low-fi, with the edges showing, befitting an audience that appreciates ads that blatantly admit they're selling you something. "That's why you see a lot of gratuitous meat-stick shots in there," said Parr.
"We didn't want it to feel like a beer commercial from the '90s. There's a temptation to idealize their life. And the other temptation is to make it weird for weird's sake. We wanted to be in the middle—something they could aspire to, but not so contrived that it lost relevance for them."
TALENT: Parr described the archetypal Slim Jim consumer as an "almost anti-millennial millennial" and the actors reflect that. "You don't want them to be hipsters or the cool kids in class," said Parr. "Then again, you don't want to cast the total dorks. We kind of looked for people we wanted to hang out with, as opposed to people that we wanted to be."
SOUND: The bouncy stock track almost sounds like disco. "These guys have such distinct tastes," Parr said of the target. "I think if you went with a licensed track or an actual artist, you'd immediately start to polarize people. We found something that had a lot of energy, a little bit of quirk and that ear hook that gave it some life."
MEDIA: The :30 is launching in social. Companion :15s will get paid support in online, TV, cinema. Those spots ("as direct and in-your-face competitive as you can be," said Parr) compare Slim Jim to a generic rival by swivelling between the two and associating ludicrous imagery with each—for example, hot girls with Slim Jim and fat guys rubbing their bellies together with the competitor.
Client: Slim Jim (ConAgra Foods)
SVP of Content Creation, ConAgra Foods: Dave Linne
Director of Content Creation, ConAgra Foods: Patrick Brennan
Agency: DDB California
Group Creative Director: Travis Parr
Art Director: Madeline DeWree
Copywriter: Tyler Booker
Senior Producer: Rob Lee
Production Company: MJZ/Soft Citizen
Director: The Perlorian Brothers
Producer: Merrie Wasson
Editor: Matt Walsh
Planning Director: Mark Rovai
Senior Strategist: Jaime Harrelson
SVP Group Account Director: Kristin Barbour
Account Director: Nancy Bernacchi
Account Supervisor: Jordan Wood
Account Coordinator: Rose Valderrama