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When adolescent boys and teens snack, they often focus on just a few items, including beef jerky, as packaged in sticks, strips, and morsels. When they are snacking, they also are often playing video games—approximately 71 percent of young men in the United States own or play video games. But as they age, many men give up these traits. Slim Jim is determined to get them back.

In its latest advertising campaign, Slim Jim exhorts men to protect their “manbalance” and avoid the emasculation that takes place, the ads assert, when boys grow up and stop doing the things they enjoyed as kids. Adult interests and purchases, such as wedding showers and minivans, create a “manmergency” that needs to be cured immediately. The ads are clearly and solely targeted toward men; the goal is to get adults to continue snacking on beef jerky, as they did as young boys.

In addition to the appeal to masculinity, the campaign plays on gamers’ interests by promising special in-game codes, which appear in the packaging of each Slim Jim product purchased. The notions are closely linked in the advertisements, such that by eating Slim Jims, an adult game player can reclaim his masculinity, which further requires him to achieve greatly improved performance on various video games.

The codes inside the Slim Jim wrappers provide access to bonus content for such popular titles as Medal of Honor Warfighter, DeadSpace 3, and Need for Speed Most Wanted. For example, a recent code gave drivers the choice of an extra car in Need for Speed.

In conjunction with its humorous advertising claims and innovative cobranding initiative, Slim Jim is getting creative with its advertising channels. Beyond traditional television and online ads, it is promoting the snacks and codes on GameStop TV, the channel that plays on televisions on the 4,300 GameStop retail locations throughout the country.

Source: Andrew Adam Newman, “Slim Jim Gives Snackers Something to Play For,” The New York Times, October 11, 2012