Not exactly the poster child for healthy snacking, a Slim Jim processed-meat stick may well contain more chemicals than Lake Erie. Whoop-de-freakin’-do. “We revel in the product’s nastiness,” says Steve Mark, creative director at North Castle Partners in Stamford, Conn. “We want to have fun and wreak havoc. Anything is possible with the Slim Jim guy.” Ah, the Slim Jim guy. Mark says there’s nothing this “manic” and “irrational” creature won’t do—he even revolts against the people who eat him. For instance: In “Appendix,” after taking a whiff of knockout gas, the guy saws through a kid’s digestive tract and explodes out of his stomach. (In a previous spot, he drowns a kid to get mouth-to-mouth resuscitation from a hottie lifeguard.) Image is everything today, but that was not always the case for the 50-year-old meat stick. Marketed as a trucker’s snack, Slim Jim was a “dying franchise” 10 years ago, Mark explains. “The customers were literally keeling over. So we repositioned the product, targeting a smaller audience: teen boys who eat tremendous amounts of garbage.” After the Randy “Macho Man” Savage campaign ran its course, the advertising turned to the Slim Jim guy in 1998. “[Goodmark Foods] knows exactly what it has,” Mark concludes. “We will continue to sell image and a rebellious attitude.” Looks like this jerky boy has a future.
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