February 5, 2023

Digital Marketing Education

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Super Bowl 2023: M&M’s spokescandies remain despite stunt

Charles Taylor, a professor of marketing at Villanova University was more circumspect, saying he tends to advise brands to steer away from political controversy. “It’s a tricky position to be in from my standpoint,” Talyor said.

Kimberly Whitler, associate professor of business administration at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, said she feels M&M’s aren’t courting “controversy” as much as “conversation and engagement,” noting that if Carlson’s remarks were actually harming the brand, it would be more likely move on without announcing a pause.

“We tend to like to think in binary terms—good or bad,” Whitler said. “In reality, there is a spectrum.”

While the M&M’s move may remind some of Planters’ move to kill off its “Mr. Peanut” character in the runup to the 2020 Super Bowl, Harris said a better comparison would be Nike’s 2018 Colin Kaepernick ad, a controversial spot that wound up leading to sales and stock gains for Nike, in spite of boycott threats.

M&M’s said Maya Rudolph would stand in for the candies in the forthcoming Super Bowl ad. In a teaser spot that has been running on TV this week, Rudolph herself played to the controversy, saying “I love M&M’s, and you and I love me,” while pointing to a pie chart showing “People Who Love Maya” dominating a tiny sliver representing “Other.” Rudolph’s face has been printed on M&M’s.


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