Marathon, anyone?

2 min read 24 September 2019

Our head of copy Clive Weatherley on why a recent name change made him, erm, snicker.

When Mars recently announced that their Snickers would revert to its former name, Marathon, albeit temporarily, the cheers of Baby Boomers were as loud as the recent sonic boom at Stansted Airport. 

For the benefit of Gen Xers and Zedders who didn’t share the joy, Marathon was the far more sensible and understandable name of the choc bar when I was a lad: it was very long (probably three times the size it is now), was an achievement to complete, and had so many nuts you could convince yourself it was good for you.

When its name was changed to the pretty stupid ‘Snickers’, after the CEO’s favourite horse apparently, there was outcry – largely unvoiced as this was pre-social media. The reason given was globalisation: the UK version was the only one with a different name.

That also explains why playground favourites Opal Fruits became Starburst; the kitchen cream cleaner Jif turned into Cif; Immac metamorphosed into Veet; and Oil of Ulay now comes from Olay.

Fine, but bringing everything into line doesn’t explain the rest of Mars’s products. If you want an actual Mars bar in the US, you ask for a Milky Way. And if you want a Milky Way, seek out a 3 Musketeers. Confused? You will be – especially if you head for Columbus Circle in New York in search of T K Maxx, and find T J Maxx. No, I don’t know either.