“America, let’s talk.” – Know how this chocolate brand’s marketing stunt shocked America! [Thursday: Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing]
Miles Everson’s The Business Builder Daily speaks to the heart of what great marketers, business leaders, and other professionals need to succeed in advertising, communications, managing their investments, career strategy, and more.
A Note from Miles Everson:
Are you familiar with guerrilla marketing?
If not, allow us to offer a brief introduction: Guerrilla marketing is an engaging and often cost-effective strategy that attracts audiences’ attention through unconventional promotional campaigns.
This type of marketing personally captivates me because of how it enhances and adds a fun twist to a brand or product’s promotion.
Today, let’s explore a concrete example of this strategy.
Keep reading further to know how the marketing team of this chocolate brand made America curious with a “sudden decision.”
Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing
Chocolates, a universal treat that transcends borders and cultures, have held a special place in people’s hearts for centuries.
… and amidst the vast array of chocolate confections available in the market, M&M’s has earned its place as one of the most iconic and beloved brands in the world. With its rich history, M&M’s has become synonymous with joy, indulgence, and a sense of nostalgia.
In January 2023, the chocolate brand made headlines for a sudden announcement of making “some changes” with its spokesperson. Initially, M&M’s had its own set of characters that represented the brand. However, due to a controversy back in 2022, the company had to replace these characters with a real person.
We’re talking about M&M’s Spokescandies…
The M&M’s Spokescandies are a group of anthropomorphic M&M’s candies that have been used in advertising for the brand since the 1990s. The characters have been known for their playful and humorous personalities, and they have been featured in a variety of advertising campaigns over the years.
However, in 2022, M&M’s faced some controversies after redesigning its characters. The transformation involved altering the appearance of the green and brown M&M’s. Traditionally, Ms. Green sported white go-go boots that were changed to sneakers, and Ms. Brown wore high-heeled stilettos that were changed to flats.
The revamp received backlash on various social media platforms and sparked a debate about the ideal level of “sexiness” that should be exhibited in the footwear designs of M&M’s figures. Fox News host Tucker Carlson even commented about the redesign, saying:
“M&M’s will not be satisfied until every last cartoon character is deeply unappealing and totally androgynous. Until the moment you wouldn’t want to have a drink with any one of them. That’s the goal. When you’re totally turned off, we’ve achieved equity. They’ve won.”
Fast forward to January 2023, M&M’s issued a statement regarding the controversy. The brand revealed a substantial shift in strategy by announcing that the beloved and iconic characters would be temporarily halted from use.
Maya Rudolph, an American actress, comedian, singer, and songwriter best known for her work on the NBC sketch comedy series “Saturday Night Live,” would replace the famous Spokescandies. See the tweet below:
Some people disagreed with M&M’s move to replace the Spokescandies. However, some also speculated that the statement was probably for a Super Bowl advertisement, and they were right!
In the Super Bowl advertisement titled, “Ma&Ya’s Candy Coated Clam Bites,” Rudolph marked her entrance as M&M’s new spokesperson, but her tenure was promptly cut short as the original candy mascots reclaimed their roles in a post-game “press conference.” Mr. Red even said in the short advertisement clip:
“I can’t believe we were actually put on pause.”
Woohoo! The Spokescandies were back… and they’re back for good!
Lots of Twitter users expressed their excitement about the return of the candy mascots. M&M’s post for the marketing stunt saw around 457,000 views, 3,620 likes, and 829 reposts.
M&M’s surely got the attention of the public there!
The marketing stunt also made headlines in various news outlets such as NBC, Fox 8 News, and CNN. Numerous articles have been published about the controversy.
Overall, M&M’s move to replace the Spokescandies shocked many. Despite that, the brand’s humorous response to its 2022 controversy helped regain the people’s love and confidence in the delectable treats.
Good job, M&M’s!
What can you learn from this marketing campaign?
M&M’s showed adaptability by responding to the controversy and making a substantial shift in its marketing strategy. In a similar way, brands should be prepared to adapt to changing circumstances, listen to the market, and make necessary adjustments to maintain a positive brand image.
The chocolate brand also knew the right person for the job. M&M’s introduced Maya Rudolph as its new spokesperson, leveraging her popularity and influence. Likewise, brands can promote their products and services by partnering with celebrities or influencers, as they can help generate buzz and reach a wider audience.
With the replacement and return of the Spokescandies, M&M’s utilized social media. This shows the importance of brands actively engaging with their customers on various online platforms, responding to comments and feedback, and creating a sense of excitement and anticipation around products or announcements.
By acknowledging and addressing the controversy, M&M’s clearly demonstrated its willingness to listen to its audience and make the necessary changes. Additionally, it highlighted M&M’s commitment to aligning with the audience’s values and preferences.
The bottom line is this: Properly addressing controversies is crucial as it provides an opportunity to engage with the audience, generate discussions, and showcase a brand’s ability to evolve. All of these can lead to increased visibility and long-term success for a business.
We hope M&M’s strategy gave you inspiration and valuable insights as you explore the ever-evolving landscape of guerrilla marketing—and marketing in general!
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(This article is from The Business Builder Daily, a newsletter by The I Institute in collaboration with MBO Partners.)
About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Thursdays: Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing”
Jay Conrad Levinson (1984) said that Guerrilla Marketing “works because it’s simple to appreciate, easy to execute, and inexpensive.”
Guerrilla Marketing is unconventional.
Looking beyond the traditional ways of advertising, marketers and advertisers need to spice things up in order for their brand to have campaigns that not only make an impact but also stick to their target market’s mind.
Guerrilla Marketing usually aims to have direct contact with consumers.
This type of direct contact should spark an emotional reaction that leads to consumers effectively remembering the brand.
It’s about making a big impression and making that impression last a long time (if not forever).
Guerrilla Marketing can be inexpensive.
The effect of this is being able to create a buzz around the brand, and the strategy used to market it. Almost everything is passed around through word-of-mouth.
Word-of-mouth is one of the greatest outcomes and it usually doesn’t cost anything.
This is every business’ or brand’s dream!
Every Thursday, we publish tips, examples, and other useful content on unconventional ways of marketing and promotion.
Learn more about how to grab your target market’s attention and make an amazing first and lasting impression without having to spend a lot of money.
Businesses don’t really need to spend much for a guerrilla campaign. You do not need a big budget to be successful. You just need creativity and a good imagination.
Hope you’ve found this week’s guerrilla marketing insight interesting and helpful.
Stay tuned for next Thursday’s Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing!
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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