In a sweet new ad during Super Bowl XLVI, Hackettstown, N.J.-based Mars Chocolate North America revealed Ms. Brown, the sixth M&M’s character (following red, yellow, blue, green, and orange, and the second female, following Ms. Green).
Like all of her fellow M&M’s spokescandies, Ms. Brown has her own distinct personality, rooted in her wisdom, high intelligence and sharp wit. Her unmatched knowledge of milk chocolate vaulted her to the position of Chief Chocolate Officer -- a position she’s excelled in for 70 years, helping make M&M’s one of the most popular and addictive milk chocolate candies in the world.
Ms. Brown preferred to stay behind the scenes until now, but she says it is time to trade in her spreadsheets for some Facebook time, and has gone live on Twitter at @mmsbrown to tell her story. We were fortunate to spend some time with her recently to discuss her illustrious career, passion for milk chocolate and her many corporate responsibilities.
FP: Ms. Brown, we were delighted to see your debut during Super Bowl XLVI. As the first Mars chocolate-coated candy and the oldest -- forgive me, the most mature and seasoned M&M’s spokescandy -- why did it take you so long to come out of your shell? Were you too busy or just too shy?
MB: I’ve been very busy for the past seven decades serving as the Chief Chocolate Officer, helping make M&M’s one of the best-selling milk chocolate candies in the world.
FP: You were appointed Chief Chocolate Officer in 1941, after attending an Ivy League school (we suspect it was Brown University) and graduated summa cum laude; could you tell us why you chose Mars rather than another employer?
MB: I was actually born in 1941 – and let’s just say that I was born into the family business.
FP: It was originally your idea to introduce Green, Blue, Yellow, Orange and Red M&M’s. What was your inspiration?
MB: Quite simply, the world is always more fun in color.
“Making history is easy when you're the original milk chocolate. ”
- Ms. Brown
Red, as usual, tried to take the spotlight away from your professional TV debut. Were you embarrassed, and have you forgiven him? MB:
Was anyone surprised by Red’s antics? I sure wasn’t. There’s really no reason to forgive him – all of the embarrassment rests with him.FP:
Speaking of Red, could you tell us about each color’s personality, and how you get along with the team?MB:
They’re family – so I love them all dearly. But just like anyone that has siblings knows, sometimes they can rub me the wrong way. FP:
Wearing glasses is a sign of high intelligence, but your white heels and gloves hint at an interest in fashion. Do you have any tips for our female readers, and how important is it to look good when you travel the globe as a representative of Mars?MB:
My heels and gloves are merely accessories to my intelligence (and of course, it doesn’t hurt to look good). I’m also not afraid to surround myself with experts, so usually I’ll turn to Ms. Green for fashion advice.FP:
Gossip is that beautiful television, film, Broadway and music superstar Vanessa Williams has worked with you on your elocution. Is that true?MB:
That is true – I was definitely honored to have the opportunity to work with someone as talented as Vanessa to help enhance my voice. FP:
Is the very attractive Ms. Green, the other female M&M’s spokescandy, jealous about sharing the spotlight with you? MB:
Jealous? Not a chance. I’d have to say Ms. Green is my favorite. It’s nice to have a fellow female to roll my eyes at when the boys open their mouths to speak.FP:
Are you involved in long-term strategies for Mars and M&M’s brand, and could you share any of your ideas?MB:
Mars' secrets remain safe with me, but I’ll give some insights here and there on Twitter at @mmsbrown
Have you dabbled in finance, and are you the behind-the-scene Mars money guru?MB:
While I follow the markets and have some visibility to our balance sheets, I rely on other talented colleagues to manage our finances so I can stick to what I know best – milk chocolate.FP:
Your unmatched knowledge of milk chocolate makes us think you tried your hand at R&D at some point. If so, were you the genius behind the highly successful M&M’s Pretzel Chocolate Candies?MB:
I can’t take all of the credit, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t lend a helping hand (and truly terrific ideas).FP:
Now that you have come out from behind the desk, will you take on a bigger role in marketing?MB:
That’s the plan – my colleagues in marketing have a lot of exciting things featuring me in 2012 and beyond.FP:
You’ve had a long and successful professional career. Could we ask a personal question as to why you are a Ms. rather than a Miss or Mrs.? MB:
I’m really excited about the opportunity to step into the spotlight – and understand some of the challenges that brings – but I prefer to keep those personal affairs private.FP:
The story is that Dutch born American guitarist Eddie Van Halen famously demanded promoters provide a bowl of M&M’s Candies backstage – with the Brown ones removed. Was that hurtful? Later, he said it was just a trick to make sure promoters read the contract carefully. Do you recall the incident, and could you comment?MB:
While I cannot comment on speculation, I can say this: As someone who has a passion for details, it definitely was a clever way to quickly evaluate a situation.FP:
Your first tweet is, “Making history is easy when you’re the original milk chocolate.” What is your favorite consumer response?MB:
I can’t really say that I have a “favorite” fan response – but it has been fun to have true dialogue with our amazing fans over the past couple of weeks.FP:
Is it important to you that Mars is very involved in sustainability, and are you influential in that initiative to make the world a better place?MB:
I stand behind all of Mars’ sustainability initiatives -- as the Chief Chocolate Officer I know that with great milk chocolate comes great responsibility.