Candy maker Mars is giving its six character M&M’s a makeover to promote inclusivity.
The company said it will provide a modern take on how the characters look — which Mars calls “lenses” — and give them more nuanced personalities. The lenses, which come in red, green, orange, yellow, brown and blue, will also come in different shapes and sizes.
Some of the changes to the M&M characters include making two of them less stereotypically feminine. In the new version, the green M&M ditches heeled boots in favor of sneakers and the brown candy no longer wears stilettos, opting instead for lower heels.
“Our ambition is to shake up expectations, break down barriers and discover the small shared pleasures of everyday life. Imagine a world with less judgment, more connection, and constant laughter,” the company said on its website.
Mars, whose brands also include Twix and Snickers, said it will also emphasize the ampersand in the M&M’s logo to show how the brand aims to bring people together.
The movement towards inclusivity and acceptance of individual differences comes at a time when consumers are increasingly aware of how products are marketed to them. Mars is aware of this, having had to change the name of its At Uncle Ben’s rice brand in 2020 due to reviews. Quaker’ Oats Aunt Jemima branded pancake mix and syrup – part of PepsiCo – was renamed last year because it said Aunt Jemima was based on a racial stereotype.
But some marketers think Mars might be overthinking the marketing of its M&Ms.
Allen Adamson, co-founder of marketing consultancy Metaforce, says the decision to revamp the character of M&Ms is a “good idea”, but it’s just one example of how marketers are fearful of offend consumers. And he thinks this step is on the “point of potential overthinking”.
Marketing consultant Laura Ries agrees, though she praises Mars’ emphasis on the ampersand as a symbol of unity.
“They’re looking for some attention and trying to jump on the bandwagon trying to be more inclusive,” Ries said. “I don’t think there’s been a public outcry about the overall sexualization of M&Ms. It’s just an M&M.