A week or so after Mars pulled back from the Skittles social media experiment, it has forced a digital agency to close down an unauthorised Snickers website.

Poke, the agency in question, was sent a cease and desist order, which demanded the suspension of www.snckrz.com. The website allowed users to customise the Snickers packaging, with their own logo. 

Snckrz.com had attracted more than 80,000 users since Poke launched it, seemingly in response to the brand’s official ‘Snacklish’ campaign. Poke tried to do this anonymously, but it didn’t stay that way for long. And feathers were suitably ruffled as a result.

Cue the heavy legal response from Mars. 

The Snckrz site now displays a lament: “Sorry, but funtime is over. No more custom logos for anyone. :'( . It also features a link to the official Snickers site, bearing this message: “terminated by THESE GUYS

I kind of understand why Mars has engaged the lawyers, but I’m not entirely sure about the merits of closing down the site.

Is this about protecting the brand, or is it really about protecting egos? 

I feel that if Poke wasn’t involved, then maybe the site would have been left untouched, or even adopted in some way by the brand. 

Consumer-generated media can make or break an ad campaign, but the trouble here seems to be that consumers were facilitated to create their media via a third party agency. Does that really matter? Didn’t Mars just extend it’s campaign for free? 

Consider the Cadbury’s gorilla ad last year. Fallon, which created the ad, has won many plaudits for creating the TV campaign. But the real win here was that the ad went viral, and then some. That’s what really made the ad campaign a measurable success. There are more than 1,000 user generated remixes on YouTube, and all of that is media that the brand didn’t pay for. Cadbury’s was delighted. The TV and creative budget was far larger than what was spent to seed the site on the internet, which ultimately had a massive impact in the success of the campaign.

Is it not worthwhile to allow consumers and agencies to do your work for you, if they want to? Does it not make sense, in terms of making the biggest splash and getting most bang for your buck?

Let’s put it this way: if Poke wants to do some free social media work for Econsultancy then please get in touch!