Will M&M’s reveal its true self at the Super Bowl?
A year ago, M&M's announced that, in a bid to be more progressive, their beloved female green M&M is switching her high-heeled boots for sneakers. The wardrobe change sparked a political uproar, fanned by Tucker Carlson of Fox News, America's most popular right-wing pundit. Earlier this year after M&M's revealed three new female spokescandies, Carlson stated "The green M&M got her boots back, but apparently is now a lesbian, maybe?
M&M's has responded with the introduction comedian Maya Rudolph as brand ambassador. And while some M&M’s enthusiasts believe that this is a genuine and permanent rebrand, this will most likely be a set-up for a big M&M's reveal at the Super Bowl. Will M&M's ad be the one to watch tomorrow?
The Candy Culture War
Anyone with a semblance of common sense understands that these efforts don't actually improve lives of marginalised groups. So, many started making fun of the right's condemnation of M&M's and the brand's superficial attempts at social justice.
Nonetheless, a recent development makes it seem that the M&M's marketing team became aware of the shallowness of this inclusivity campaign and decided to make fun of it. Several days after Carlson's comments, M&M's announced that, to quell the outrage, they are replacing the spokescandies with the comedian Maya Rudolph, dubbed "Lady Awesome" and "Chief of Fun".
Some interpreted this as M&M's caving to the right, however, the sarcasm in M&M's statement tells a different story. Starting an announcement of such a trivial issue with the dramatic "America, let's talk." and including "But now we get it - even a candy's shoes can be polarizing" shows that M&M's recognises the disparity between the magnitude of the reaction and the issue at hand. Furthermore, choosing Maya Rudolph, who often uses self-deprecating humour, fits perfectly with this tone.
Two days later, a video titled "Yum 😉" was posted on the M&M's YouTube channel. In the video Rudolph declared that she is renaming M&M's to "Ma&Ya's". February 2nd, Ma&Ya’s announced that the candy will now be filled with clams.
Big reveal at the Super Bowl
With the foundation laid, there are two possible ways the brand will tackle their Super Bowl ad: the boring way and the interesting way.
In the boring version, the spokescandies return to the M&M’s world, re-establishing the status quo. They triumphantly assert their place, while championing inclusivity, friendship, and peace. Maya Rudolph is portrayed either as an egotistical villain who took over the M&M's brand, or someone who joins causes with the valiant spokescandies.
In the interesting version, M&M’s calls out other brands' shallow ploys to be progressive. The self-awareness and sarcasm dial are turned to a 10, making an impactful statement about something that everyone believes, but large brands don’t want to say.
The set-up is basically perfect, with an unreasonable reaction from the right, overwhelming media coverage, and gradual introduction of dry humour.
For now, we can only speculate. We will find out only tomorrow if this will be another uninspiring, annoying Baby Peanut reveal, or if this will be something truly disruptive.
Author: Alice Pukhova, Creative Researcher WMH&I