But the most noticeable change is to the six M&M ratings: new shoes. Green has replaced his go-go boots with sneakers. Brown has lower, more sensible heels. Red and Yellow’s shoes now have laces. Orange’s shoe laces are no longer unbound. And Blues shoes, although little changed, look like what Anton Vincent, president of Mars Wrigley North America, described it as “a bad version of Uggs”[ads1];.
Mars Wrigley, who owns M & Ms, is trying to make the characters – especially the female ones – more “relevant” and “representative of our consumer,” Vincent said. The renewed footwear is “a subtle signal, but it’s a signal people really catch,” he added, noting that Mars gets a lot of feedback on the characters’ shoes.
The logo adjustment is also small: instead of resting on the side, it is set up straight. The new orientation is designed to emphasize the and-sign. The logo was last fine-tuned in 2019.
The changes will be rolled out online this week, and they will be integrated into M & M’s packaging and other marketing materials this year.
The changes can be subtle, but even small Shifts can help brands avoid falling out of fashion, said David Camp, co-founder and CEO of Metaforce, a marketing company. “Every brand needs to continually reinvent itself to stay relevant.”
Better gender representation
M & Ms were first sold in 1941, and the characters arrived on the scene in 1954. Old M & M commercials had red and yellow main characters, representing regular and peanut M & Ms. In the late 1990s, new grades were added to the mix. Brown, the latest addition, joined the crew in 2012.
Over the years, the brand has alternated between highlighting its characters more powerfully or less often, Vincent noted. Now it puts them in front and in the middle.
At the moment there are two female characters and four male ones. Adding a few female characters to balance the relationship is possible, Vincent said, but there are “implications” for the product itself. M & Ms would have to add new permanent colors to the mix.
The solution was then to give the women Green and Brown a promotion. They want a more prominent position in ads, with a view to “a little more gender balance,” Vincent said.
M & Ms uses these changes to try to signal its brand identity to customers, who are increasingly attracted to brands they feel match their own values. “It gives us a good platform to talk about the whole idea of belonging,” Vincent said.
The company also puts more “focus on the characters in terms of the overall brand, and then builds a platform to be able to go in and talk about this idea,” he added.