M&M capitalizes on a myth

2mm_2 We’ve talked quite a bit about how consumers own our brand.  It lives in their minds and hearts.  But we can have great influence in terms of how our brand is received and perceived.

But sometimes, people do crazy, unexpected things with your brand.  Take M&M’s for instance. We’ve all known about the powers of the green M&Ms for years.  Pretty darn sure the folks at The Mars Company didn’t start that myth.

But, now they’ve demonstrated that they’re smart enough to take advantage of it.  As I was perusing the Valentine’s Day row (have to get ready for Who Loves Ya Baby Day) in Walgreens, look what I found.

I’ll bet they sell a ton of these packages and good for them.   Think about what they did:

  • They embraced the brand…from the consumer’s point of view.
  • They showed a sense of humor and playfulness (always been a part of their brand).
  • They took an old product and gave it new life for very little cost.
  • They extended their possibilities for the Valentine’s Day holiday.  Some will buy the pink and red M&Ms but others will love these green only packages.
  • They created a buzz worthy moment for themselves
  • They created a seasonal product that people will watch for again next year

Bravo M&M/Mars for recognizing that you can’t rein in your brand and sometimes, you just have to go with the flow.  In this case, brilliantly!

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29 comments on “M&M capitalizes on a myth

  1. Dam Schawbel says:

    And they are targeting women by having a female M&M!

  2. Thanks for sharing. This is one of those huge ideas that makes you wonder why nobody thought of it earlier!

  3. Good post, Drew. Love M&M’s idea of drawing on the intimacy aspect of this time of year. The attractive female M&M on the green package appears to be seducing the consumer to purchase the product for their loved one. Love the big, juicy lips. Very enticing!

  4. Really, a great example of a company being engaging with their brand. I agree that controlling your brand is sometimes hard to do, but give it to M&M/Mars for allowing their brand to live and breathe through their consumers and having the intelligence to act on it.

    Great post, Drew.

    Keep Cooking!
    Andrew

  5. The packaging is well done…hard to replicate in the photo. But without a doubt, there’s a playful saucy quality that they’ve captured.

    I agree — I think it’s pretty brilliant!

    Drew

  6. Nathan,

    I’ll bet after they see the sales figures, M&M is going to be saying the same thing. “Why didn’t we think of this earlier?!”

    Drew

  7. John Rosen says:

    Drew:

    Very important points you make: embracing the brand from the consumer’s point-of-view and being willing to try a little playfulness. I was consulting wih Heinz years ago when tehy finally tried these approaches with their mothreload, ketchup. Colors like green and purple, while off-putting to middle-aged types like me, were a huge hit with the core market…kids! Once Heinz got out of thinking of kethcup as some strange blend of a foodservie product (keep it cheap, efficient, always the same in a glass bottle, etc.) and a holy icon (don’t ever change anything!) the were able to enliven and relaunch this great product…and charge a premium price; not only from colors but also packaging innovations like the now-ubiquitous “upside-down” plastic bottle.

    John

  8. Shirley says:

    Works for me! Over the years, I have never thought of giving candy to dear hubby… and certainly not anything red or pink like the ‘traditional’ Valentine M&Ms. But now, I might just have to sneak in some of those green ones (Walgreens DOES have them on sale!)

    As Madeline Kahn might have said, “gween emnems, how womantic.”

  9. I think this is a great example of using the preconceptions of your brand and taking advantage of it. As everyone else has noted, marketing a candy purported to be an aphrodisiac on Valentine’s Day is a natural idea. Add the female friendly character and “Color of Love” tagline and you’ve got a winner.

  10. DeafMom says:

    I had forgotten all about the “power of green m ‘n ms!” That was popular when I was in college.

  11. Mack Collier says:

    Great move by M&Ms and it shows that they aren’t afraid to let their customers have some control over the brand. Good stuff!

  12. John Rosen says:

    Speaking of “Green” and Drew’s point about creating a buzz worthy event for your brand: I was reminded of a story my parents repeated many times while I was growing up: “Lucky Strike Green goes to war!” During WWII, Lucky Strike Cigarettes eliminated the color green from their package, claiming that the metal dye to create the green color was in short supply and critical to the war effort. This move, and the classic radio and print ad campaign with the slogan above, is still taught in marketing classes as brilliant move.

    So, I suppose the point is that the underlying concepts in Drew’s list of dot points are not new…but the technology and the times do, indeed, change radically.

    John

  13. John Rosen says:

    Here’s a link to buzz ads like the “Lucky Strike Green Goes To War” from the 1940’s:

    http://www.angelfire.com/retro2/lisanostalgia2/40swar.html

  14. Steve Haprer says:

    Drew,

    I just have to say how much I love reading your BLOG! It is without a doubt one that I look forward to reading every day.

    Just wanted to say thanks for all that you do for us out here in BLOGSPHERE-LAND.

    Ripple On My Friend!!!

    Steve Harper

  15. Jessica says:

    This green package will certainly stand out and catch the shopper’s eye amongst all of the other red/pink packages in the Valentine candy aisle – not a bad thing.

  16. Daniel says:

    John –

    Does Heinz still make the multicolored ketchup? For some reason, I thought that experiment was short-lived.

  17. John Rosen says:

    Daniel:

    Yes, Heinz has discontinued the colors, but has maintained the EZ Squirt packaging. I believe their intent is to occasionally introduce them as part of seasonal or kid-focused promotions. For instance,in the past they’ve done tie-ins with the Shrek movies, with Shrek himself on green bottles and Fiona on teh red.

    John

  18. John,

    Amazing isn’t it — how quickly we’ve forgotten that the ketchup bottles weren’t always engineered so wisely.

    Drew

  19. Steve,

    You are too kind — thank you. I just start the conversations. It’s you guys who keep them so interesting!

    Drew

  20. Jessica,

    Yes…the distinct packaging is yet another stroke of genius with this product. You can’t miss it in the sea of red/pink!

    Drew

  21. Jennifer says:

    I’m probably the only one who’s actually a little disturbed with the m&ms ‘green’ promotion. My kids have asked me about them… how do you explain to young kids what the hype is behind them??? I liked it better when the aura behind the green m&m was more subtle.

  22. Jennifer,

    Couldn’t you just say they’re for boys….because we don’t like pink?

    I hear what you’re saying. It would be interesting to know if M&Ms got any complaints.

    Drew

  23. What’s next? Will P&G start using their moon and stars on Halloween?

    http://www.snopes.com/business/alliance/procter.asp

  24. Paul,

    I think the key factor here is that M&M’s capitalized on something that was created outside of their own marketing efforts. Perhaps despite their own marketing efforts.

    But, they realized it was part of their brand and brilliantly twisted it into something new.

    Makes you wonder if the snickers people will be starting some new rumor now!

    Drew

  25. Just a little joke, Drew. I wasn’t being serious. I do think it was a good idea for Mars. I don’t think it would be a good idea for P&G.

  26. Paul,

    I know you were kidding.

    But…for lots of people, M&Ms success would suggest they could simply copy the tactic and it would work for them too.

    I’ll bet you and I could come up with a dozen companies who have made that mistake!

    Drew

  27. Jennifer says:

    Interestingly, there are people who do not even know about what green m&ms are supposed to mean. I’ve been surprised at the number of people who don’t get it. Now, from a marketing standpoint, it may actually turn out to be smarter than originally thought since St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner and all the green ones won’t go to waste. Wondered if they planned it that way…

  28. Jennifer,

    I think that was just a lucky strike extra! I’m sure there are people who don’t get the green M&M reference. But….I’ll bet there are many more people who do today, than did before the launch of the new packaging.

    All the better for M&M.

    Drew

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