Agency Tests Snack Food’s Allure on Mindless Human Lab Rats

'Run mousey run!'

Australian mall rats dress up in mouse costumes and run on a giant wheel inside a cage in this latest installment of Clemenger BBDO's borderline sadistic "How far will you go for Fantastic Delites?" campaign for the flavored-rice-snack brand. Round and round they go, taking tumbles and battling exhaustion, egged on by a crowd and video messages on the screen of the snack dispenser: "Faster Faster Faster" and "Run Mousey Run." Those who generate enough speed earn a pack of Delites. If not, well, they were reduced to little more than sweaty vermin on public display. (It must've been hot inside those suits!)

"Yes, the people in the video are people who were in the mall," says agency director Erik de Roos. "We did announce through the Fantastic Delites Facebook page that another challenge was coming up, without actually disclosing what the challenge entailed. Beyond this, we relied on the general public's interest and desire to participate. Of course, in order to demonstrate to the general public what was involved, we had to show them. As such, we had one predetermined person who kicked things off for us."

Why wasn't I invited? I've got my own whiskers and wheel. Anyway, the clip is a sequel to the agency and client's vending-machine video from a few months back, which saw folks dancing, genuflecting and pushing a button up to 5,000 times to earn free snacks. That video has gotten more than 2.5 million views since July, and according to de Roos, it ranks as one of Australia's top viral videos of the year (though not, of course, the very top one).

The mouse video takes the concept of consumer challenges to a higher level of absurdity. It's fun and inventive, impossible to turn away from. Yet, doesn't it suggest we're all just lab animals trapped on the wheel of consumer culture? "The stunt certainly isn't intended as a metaphor," says de Roos. "It is purely a result of our campaign platform … the belief that our products taste so good, people will go to extremes to get their hands on them."

So … that sounds like we're doomed, right? We're mindless snack slaves with no free will and should be thankful that the Mayan apocalypse is approaching to cleanse the planet of our presence? Is that what you're saying? "I don't think all hope is lost yet!" says de Roos. "People certainly went to extremes to get a free pack, but they were entertained at the same time. And we feel this is why the concept works: It is enjoyable for participants and spectators alike."

OK, I see your point. No harm, no foul. Everybody wins. The wheel's not a bad thing in the end. Smart way to spin it, mate.

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.
Publish date: December 14, 2012 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT