Candy Heart 63ea7e091f1ad

Why I Loved M&M's Spokescandies' Super Bowl Commercial

Feb. 13, 2023
I thought the candies' Super Bowl LVII ads to be the perfect amount of sweet and salty, particularly to a very specific audience.

I didn't watch much of the Super Bowl this year. Football has waned for me as a sport I enjoy watching and most of the commercials can be seen before the game itself. I was more focused on watching the Puppy Bowl; however,  the commercial I was most interested in watching was M&Ms. I wanted to see the culmination of a weeks -- some could say months- or year-long -- ad campaign about 'controversial' chocolate candies.  

I've written about M&Ms' spokescandies for at least a year now. This time last year, I was frustrated with the portrayal of how women, even in candy form, were always at war with one another. I wrote about Purple being added to the mix, and then about the 'Flippin the Status Quo' packs. Heck, I was one of the journalists that covered the 'retirement' of the spokescandies. I covered it because M&Ms had kinda become my beat in the last year, but I also wanted to watch and see how this marketing plan for the chocolate-covered candies played out. 

As I watched the spokescandies take the podium and tell commercial watchers they weren't going anywhere, I started to chuckle. As it turned into a full-blown laugh, I couldn't help but marvel at the level of sweet pettiness I can only imagine was going on in M&Ms' agency's minds as they crafted this fantastic campaign.  

Revenge is Sweet

Judging by all of the people I've seen complaining about the ads, the concepts of 1) pettiness and 2) playing the long-game are lost on most. 

I should note, I didn't talk to the agency that put this campaign together nor did I confirm any of this as being true. All of this is pure speculation on my part. But, I digress. 

Mars Wrigley's M&M-branded spokescandies started to gain some attention last year when Fox News' Tucker Carlson began remarking on appearance changes to the chocolate-covered mascots. After a few cosmetic tweaks, Carlson remarked to his Fox News audience that "M&M's will not be satisfied until every last cartoon character is deeply unappealing and totally androgynous," and that when "you're totally turned off, we've achieved equity." As if that candy-flavored misogyny wasn't enough, when M&Ms introduced Purple to its lineup of characters last year, Carlson called the character 'obese' despite it being the same size as both the Yellow and Blue candy characters.

Many of Fox News' audience and a few more of its pundits jumped on the bandwagon for the remainder of 2022. Earlier this year, Carlson vs. the candies came to a crescendo when M&Ms announced they'd be 'retiring' the spokescandies after 'crashing the internet' because of the back and forth between the right-wing and, well, everyone else. Enter Maya Rudolph and the Ma&Yas. 

Now, if you hadn't been following this whole saga for the last year, then I suppose I can understand why the 'retirement' campaign and the whole Ma&Yas situation seems like bad marketing. I've seen countless colleagues and friends talk about how 'stupid' or 'silly' the whole thing was. But as someone that has watched this unfold for the last year, I just have one word to say to Mars Wrigley, M&Ms, and the ad agency that came up with this particular ad campaign: BRAVO. 

If you haven't noticed, people are still talking about M&Ms, even if it's to say that the commercials didn't make sense. But perhaps the best part of this whole campaign was that it offered up a giant middle finger to the very media network and audience that had called for its cancellation. If you recall, the Super Bowl aired on Fox, which is part of the Fox Network Group, which also owns Fox News -- the entertainment channel on which Tucker Carlson and his gang of merry pundits work.  

Was a $7 million commercial an expensive way to say 'Oh Shut Up, Tucker; we're not going anywhere'? Perhaps. But was it a sweet way to get a little bit of revenge on a worldwide stage? Definitely. 

About the Author

Erin A. Hallstrom

Erin Hallstrom oversaw our digital content strategy for the Food Processing brand from 2008-2023. She is now the Associate Director of SEO Strategy for Endeavor Business Media, where she holds technical certifications in both website analytics and search engine optimization. Most recently, she was named the 2022 Marianne Dekker Mattera Award Winner

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