M&Ms M&Ms

M&M’s, owned by Mars, is dropping its iconic anthropomorphic candy spokespeople and replacing them with Emmy-winning actress Maya Rudolph.

What’s happening? On Monday, M&M’s announced the change, citing an unpredictable reaction to minor aesthetic adjustments made over the last year as the reason for dropping the candies. Across its social media profiles, the company posted a message which reads:

America, let’s talk. In the last year, we’ve made some changes to our beloved spokescandies. We weren’t sure if anyone would even notice. And we definitely didn’t think it would break the internet. But now we get it – even a candy’s shoes can be polarizing. Which was the last thing M&M’s wanted since we’re all about bringing people together.

Therefore, we have decided to take an indefinite pause from the spokescandies. In their place, we are proud to introduce a spokesperson America can agree on: the beloved Maya Rudolph. We are confident Ms. Rudolph will champion the power of fun to create a world where everyone feels they belong.

What were the minor aesthetic adjustments? The previously sultry green M&M traded in her go-go boots for sneakers and in September a new purple M&M was added to the lineup in honor of International Women’s Day.

What was the response to the changes? The changes sparked outrage, or at least fake outrage, in conservative media circles. Fox News labeled the candy company as “woke” and when the Green M&M swapped to more comfortable footwear, an online petition was launched to “keep the green M&M sexy.” Although that petition was largely derided and only managed to scrounge up 20,000 signatures, M&M did refer to it in Monday’s statement, acknowledging that “even a candy’s shoes can be polarizing.”

The animated legacy of M&M’s: M&M characters have a prolific history as animated spokescandies dating back to television spots in the 1950s. The current incarnation of cg M&M’s first appeared in the mid-nineties and have boasted the involvement of companies that include Will Vinton Studios, Blue Sky, Topix, and Laika/house. A variety of animated spots can be seen in the collection below:

Will the characters come back? Speaking with CNN, Gabrielle Wesley, chief marketing officer for Mars Wrigley North America, said that a deal with Rudolph had been in the works for a while, and that:

There are lots of stories out there but let me say conclusively that this decision isn’t a reaction to but rather is in support of our M&M’S brand. The original colorful cast of M&M’S spokescandies are, at present, pursuing other personal passions. We will share more on the spokescandies new pursuits over the next few weeks.

The whole thing feels like it could be an elaborate marketing campaign with a Super Bowl commercial, but we’ll have to wait and see.

M&M's Outrage

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