Keeping the Faith

You’re Not You When You’re Spiritually Hungry

What happens if builders aren’t themselves?

A certain chocolate bar brand (with a main ingredient of peanuts and a name that rhymes with knickers) took it on board to find out in its latest advertising campaign.  The one-minute commercial that, at face value, questions accepted stereotypes of builders and women, went viral.

You’ve probably seen it, but for those who haven’t…  picture Melbourne construction workers decked out in fluoro vests and helmets, beards and leers, looking down from their multi-storey construction site at unsuspecting female pedestrians below.

“Hey darlin’, you have y’self a lovely day!” one calls out.

“I appreciate your appearance is just one aspect of who you are!”

“I’d like to show you… the respect you deserve,” another yells.

The responses from women – who, according to Clemenger BBDO (the creative agency behind the ad), were unsuspecting passers-by – are classic.  Quizzical looks.  Nervous smiles.  One woman looks ahead and behind her to check that they are actually talking to her.  One slows down, neck craned, laughing, finally coming to a complete standstill with her jaw practically on the pavement.  She walks away mouthing a “thank you” at the workers.

Her response was to this offering:

“You know what I’d like to see? A society in which the objectification of women makes way for gender neutral interaction, free from assumptions and expectation.”

The male-female interactions are so revealing, the shock in the women’s faces so telling, that the ad’s concluding tagline comes as a stab in the heart – to this hopeful woman anyway.

“You’re not you when you’re hungry.”

What a pity that, instead of making a statement about the worth and value of women, the ad only reinforces a nasty stereotype of catcalling labourers.  This is the accepted norm, it says, stagnating what we thought was a breath of fresh air.

Construction workers and women have every right to be vexed. Perhaps they will choose to go hungry – from that brand of chocolate bar anyhow.

Gripes aside, that tagline does hold an element of truth.  My husband knows not to cross me when I haven’t eaten.  I’m really not me when I’m hungry.

And there’s a spiritual parallel here too.

On those days when I have failed to read the Bible and to pray, when I’ve essentially starved myself from spiritual food, things don’t go so well. Not to say that I jinx my day, but my perspective is distorted.  I’m really not me – the person God created me to be – when I’m spiritually hungry.

If faith were a flower, then the Word of God is her soil and prayer is her water.  As Alfred Lord Tennyson once said, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.”

Prayer – faith’s voice – is powerful.

The Bible – God’s word – is useful for, “…showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, The Message)

Sometimes, the Word gives us the prayer.  On those days when there is no description for what you’re going through, when your soul and tongue are numb with trying to explain it, the scriptures have a way of doing it for you. Like this:

“God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life. 
Don’t throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me.
 Bring me back from grey exile, put a fresh wind in my sails!” (Psalm 51:10-12, The Message)

A day, a year, a lifetime filled with this kind of superfood is more effective and fulfilling than any chocolate-coated, sugar-hit, half-reality.

First published in The Examiner Newspaper for Keeping the Faith column on Monday April 7, 2014.


  1. That Snickers Ad

    I’ve watched the ad. In fact, that shaggy-looking guy with the long line (which I suspect was improvised) sat next to me all through year 12 English. He’s a good guy.

    A lot of people seem to have reacted strongly to this ad. They complain that it does the opposite of what it seems to set out to do. I would disagree.

    First: there’s a reason builders have a reputation for being sexist pigs. A couple of years ago I was house-sharing with my sister when an apartment went up behind our block. She was out pegging washing one day when some sleazy, forty-something construction worker started yelling out horrible things at her. She was all of 18 at the time, and we went straight to the police.

    Second: this ad is different to the other Snickers ads which use the tag line “you’re not you when you’re hungry.” What DOESN’T happen at the end? The builders are never seen eating a Snickers bar and reverting to “themselves.” I believe that Snickers has taken what was by now a familiar tag line, and used it to create a message about gender that others would be totally incongruous with advertising about chocolate.

    Advertising is one of the most influential factors in our modern, commercial culture. Perhaps we should be glad that a company with plenty of advertising sway is actually doing something to challenge some of our society’s gender problems.

    • Hey biscuitfeatures! I almost agree with you here… except that if you watch the ad, that tagline ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’ is used – right at the end, white writing on black background. If it ran without the tag I think, as you said, it would have gone a way towards challenging some of society’s gender problems. 🙂

  2. Aside from that last comment – what a brilliant comparison! And (oh dear, pun alert!)… some real “food for thought.” I’ve been missing out for a while now on that God-time, adrift in a sea of stress and too many things happening. Maybe today is the day I come back to rest a little.

    Thanks for this post 🙂

  3. Thanks Claire, it’s quite a clever ad.  However, the reality is that in these type of situations group mentality and peer pressure play a big part in the remarks and gestures made towards women.  Individually, most men would be quite respectful.

    In regard to the group mentality of the church, the Lord says this:
    ‘… My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.’
    (Isaiah 56:7)
    May this description be true of us and may we give prayer a priority, both personally and in our congregations.
    Thanks again Claire.

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