Corporate logos used to be sacred ground, but a few marketers have recently begun defiling them in advertising. This summer, Masterfoods' Snickers unveiled an out-of-home campaign in eight markets with messages like "Substantialisious" and "Hungerectomy" delivered in the brand's signature red, white and blue logo and font.
Earlier this month, Perrier, the water brand, began tweaking its logo in ads, replacing the name with "Sexier," "Sassier" and other iterations ending in "-ier." Finally, Gap is swapping its standard blue for white in ads tying in with the Bono-led, charity-driven Red.
Though MTV has been known to constantly update its logos, branding experts were at a loss to remember the last time a marketer tweaked its logo in an ad. "Most branding firms and intellectual property lawyers would likely caution against diluting trademark equity in applications like these," said Hayes Roth, CMO at Landor Associates, New York, who applauded the idea.
Scott Vitrone, creative director of TBWA\Chiat\Day, the New York agency that created the Snickers campaign, said things are loosening up. "I do think that there was a time when it was maybe considered a little taboo," he said. "But you can't apply hard and fast rules anymore."
In Snickers' case, the ads seemed to have worked. Vic Walia, senior marketing manager for the brand, said sales jumped an average of 10% in the markets where the campaign ran. The reason, Vitrone suggested, was that the ads make you do a double-take.
"It draws you in," he said. "People actually think it's a Snickers logo at first."
It's too soon to see if the Perrier campaign is working, but Nicole O'Connor, manager of consumer communications at the company, said the move felt right. "It showed a little confidence."
The campaign also seeks to update a brand that's often associated with the '80s. One way to do that is to adopt the "Pimp my brand" aesthetic of user-generated media. "Twentysomething-year-olds want to have their own creative statement," said O'Connor. "Here they have lots of license to do that."