Monday, April 15, 2013

M&M Musings

Today I thought we'd take some time out of our bust schedule and talk shop a bit about your favorite candy mascots and mine the M&Ms.

Now why it has taken me so long to write a basic post on these iconic mascots is beyond me. Perhaps its all just a bit daunting, I mean when you're talking big league candy mascots they simply get no bigger than the M&Ms. Also the M&Ms have such a history to them, I'm not talking just academically here, I'm talking on a deep personal level I have strong emotions and memories of the M&Ms from my youth. Where do you begin when you're talking about a brand mascot, a whole series of brand mascots who so dominate the playing field that others are, I think, scared to even get out of the gate?

Well, for me I thought I'd talk a bit today about the M&Ms themselves. Why does it even work? You've got a great little chocolate and candy confection, I mean I think we all know plain, or 'milk chocolate' M&Ms as they are now called, are really fantastic,  but why do you even think to put arms and a face on them for the marketing? I know there have been a lot of food mascots over the years, heck even Wikipedia lists the Quaker Oats Man going back to 1877, But I have to think it wasn't until Mr Peanut came along in the 30s that people really got to see a mascot that was made of his own product. More often than not you had some associated person, or cuddly cartoon animal hocking your wares, think Toucan Sam, or the Jolly Green Giant. Other than a few exceptions like Twinkie the Kid, or the McNugget Buddies anthropomorphic food trying to get you to eat it (or not in some cases) is generally shied away from.

Now the M&M characters first appeared in the 60s, and I know that this reference wasn't written until 1980 but doesn't the whole thing smack  a bit too much like that great scene in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe where they Meet the Meat (watch the clip on YouTube here). This is either some very clever or some very morbid marketing at work. But what really amazes me most is that no one seems to notice it?!

Although there is definitely a weird morbidity to the entire prospect, the awesome thing is that there's no denying how effective these little guys are! I'm not here to regurgitate Wikipedia to you, there is more than enough info there to keep you occupied, but I do want to say that the very fact that these guys exist, and that they are so great at keeping me interested in M&Ms is a real testament to an enduring concept, and some great marketing execution.

And since the late mid 90s these characters have also really evolved into something fascinating that no other candy company can claim. They are unique as candy mascots that are recognized all over the world. they also have distinct personalities, an basic character plot lines in their specific ads. And because (basically) each one is associated with a specific flavor of the candy, fans can have their favorites. People connect with them, and care about them. That is branding gold and something you have to commend.

Some of my fondest memories from being a kid are browsing through my comic books, or flipping the tv on and watching the great advertising.  Seriously, I really have always loved good advertizing. And M&M ads were, and still are always a ton of fun.

Next time we'll get more into the advertizing specifically, but I thought it best to start with the real heart of the ads first. These guys are what makes the M&M ads tick, and I'm very glad they're around.

Check out even more on the M&Ms with these reviews:
M&Ms Peanut review
M&Ms Coconut review
M&Ms Mint review
M&Ms White Chocolate Peppermint review

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