Branding

‘Can I still eat them’? Mars M&M’S rebrand struggles to keep on-message

By Anthony Myers contact

- Last updated on GMT

Green now sports a pair of ‘cool, laid-back sneakers’ in the M&M'S brand refresh. Pic: Mars
Green now sports a pair of ‘cool, laid-back sneakers’ in the M&M'S brand refresh. Pic: Mars

Related tags: Mars wrigley confectionery, M&Ms

The Mars' rebranding of its classic iconic candy M&M’S, to emphasise its commitment to inclusion and global belonging, has not been embraced online quite as the company expected.

The idea was to update M&M’S with ‘a fresh, modern take on the looks of our beloved characters and more nuanced personalities to underscore the importance of self-expression and power of community through storytelling,’ according to the confectionery giant.

As part of the refresh the two female M&M’S — Ms Green and Ms Brown — work in tandem as a ‘force supporting women, together throwing shine and not shade,' Mars explained in its press release. To this end, they will lose the ‘Ms’  as part of their mission to de-emphasise gender. Green will replace her 'go-go boots' in favour of ‘cool, laid-back sneakers’.

 Other areas of rebranding include:

  • An enhanced focus on the brand’s iconic colour palette and the use of different shapes and sizes of M&M’S lentils across all touchpoints to prove that all together, we’re more fun
  • An added emphasis on the ampersand – a distinctive element within the M&M’S logo that serves to connect the two Ms – to demonstrate how the brand aims to bring people together
  • An updated tone of voice that is more inclusive, welcoming, and unifying, while remaining rooted in our signature jester wit and humour

M&M’S has long been committed to creating colourful fun for all, and this purpose serves as a more concrete commitment to what we’ve always believed as a brand: that everyone has the right to enjoy moments of happiness, and fun is the most powerful way to help people feel that they belong​,” said Cathryn Sleight, Chief Growth Officer at Mars Wrigley. “As one of the world’s most iconic candy brands, who better to commit to a world with more moments of fun by increasing a sense of belonging around the globe than M&M’S?”

Right wing media and other commentators have been particularly scathing on social media with the #M&M’S on Twitter a channel for their ire.

‘Can I Still eat them’?

More restrained responses include a comment piece in The Washington Post by Alexandra Petri, who perhaps sums up the genuine confusion surrounding the rebrand when she writes, “Am I still allowed to eat them? So Mars has decided to rebrand the M&M candy mascots to create a ‘sense of belonging and community.’ The green lady M&M will be less defined by her sexuality (a phrase I can’t believe I just typed).

"The orange M&M will embrace his anxiety; he will also tie his shoelaces now. And the red M&M will bully less. They will also, generally, be defined by ‘personalities, rather than their gender.’ (I’m sorry, I just noticed myself writing the phrase ‘the mascots for M&Ms, lentil-shaped chocolate candies, will be less defined by their gender’ and it is all I can do not to jump into the sea.)

"But they are still for eating, though? They are more accepting of one another and their own issues, but at the end of the day, they are still for eating, right? I can still eat them?”

Jonah Goldberg, writing in gfile.thedispatch.com, said: “This could be the most successful marketing campaign in history, but I doubt you’ll see the needle move a micrometer on any of the measurements of alienation and inclusion because of it.​”

Mars, struggling to keep on top of the narrative, said: "The iconic candy brand’s announcement is built on more than 80 years of bringing people together with its bite-sized colourful candies and flavours and is part of the evolved M&M’S brand’s strategy built on purpose, which promises to use the power of fun to include everyone, with a goal of increasing the sense of belonging for 10 million people around the world by 2025."

The company said studies show 'our desire to belong is as strong as our desire to be loved, and that desire is common for all people irrespective of culture, race, ethnicity, geography, or location'.

It has also created the M&M’S FUNd​ to track the brand’s impact on its mission, which will ‘offer resources, mentorship, opportunities and financial support in the arts and entertainment space to help ensure people have access to experiences where everyone feels they belong’.

Related topics: Manufacturers, Mars

4 comments

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Are you confused doctor P lol

Posted by DoctorPfactchecker,

This company is being sued right now for slave labour in its cocoa fields lol its one of the worst chocolate companies. Where did you get your facts from 🤣

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RE M&Ms Alienation Campaign comment

Posted by Douglas Furtek,

I have known Mars people for 33 years - but I was never an employee - and what you say is so true. Diversity, inclusivity, and the well-being of its "associates" and especially cocoa farmers are engraved into Mars' culture, more than any other chocolate company. Perhaps I shouldn't use the word "woke" but the company was certainly pre-woke decades ago. And I feel good about purchasing Mars products.

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M&Ms Alienation Campaign

Posted by DoctorP,

There was no need for Mars to join the world of woke . They already had a great reputation for diversity and inclusivity in the form of the 5 principles; they were decades ahead of other companies. This outbreak of virtue signalling is so so transparent the founders must be turning in their graves.

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