For a detailed analysis of the marketing campaign, a modern advertisement for the chocolate dragee brand M&M’s was chosen. There were several reasons for focusing on this promotional video. First, this is an example of modern advertising for a highly successful company that can be seen as representative of modern marketing. Secondly, this ad demonstrates a new approach for this brand compared to previous advertising campaigns, which would make sense to consider in detail. Finally, it is interesting to analyze this advertisement from the point of view of new value orientations that are quite actively promoted in the representative tactics of modern mass brands. In this advertisement, the motifs of fun and entertainment are conceptually combined with the political message inherent in the current agenda.
A specific aspect that has undergone transformations within the framework of this advertising campaign is the focus on demographics. Initially, M&M’s focused on demographics that could be described as children or teenagers. Given the financial dependence of children, the company also included in the target parents who could treat themselves and their children to chocolate dragees. The focus on the children’s audience in these commercials is typically characterized by the appearance of two characters, animated M&M’S candies. Each of these heroes had a unique characteristic and recognizable external features.
Typically, advertisements for this brand were comic stories that included two of these characters. The very idea of transforming branded food products into animated characters caused an approving reaction from the audience. These two characters occupy a recognizable place in pop culture and, in a sense, are one of the keys to the brand’s popularity. M&M’S has tried throughout the 21st century to expand and extend effective marketing using these characters. One way to diversify the brand to keep it interesting was to introduce new colors, green, blue, orange, as the color of the dragee. As a result, this led to the emergence of a number of new characters, less recognizable, but also with clear characteristics. However, it is important to note that a technique designed to maintain interest in the brand and its mythology is taking on a new semantic connotation in 2022 advertising.
The analysis of the commercial for YouTube expresses the changed policy of the brand, which at the moment emphasizes how important the aspect of values is for it. The brand’s slogan for this year is the statement “For All Funkind”, which is a play on words combining the words “fun” and “mankind”. This pun has several similar meanings. First of all, it means that these dragees are a suitable companion for all fun activities. That is, this product can accompany a fun activity, or maybe even turn a mundane activity into fun. The slogan seeks to create a clear association between the idea of entertainment in its most common sense and the chocolates being promoted. However, the second idea communicated by the motto of the company is a humanistic message. The brand emphasizes that their dragees are a celebration of diversity, embodying the idea of unity in diversity. In fact, through this advertising campaign, an analogy is drawn between the different colors, shapes and flavors of M&M’S candies and the diversity of people, their looks, ages and ethnic groups.
M&M’S emphasizes with its advertising campaign that they embody the model of tolerance towards all cultures in modern realities. The accompanying text for the publication of this advertisement on YouTube is the ideological message of the company. M&M’s claim to strive to create a vision of a better world where everyone feels “like they belong” (M&M’S Chocolate, 2022). The brand tries to create a sense of a world that is inclusive for every person, regardless of culture, temperament, social conditions. Despite the fact that this message is streamlined enough and not overly politicized, it uses the rhetoric of many other large corporations. It seems to be an important aspect of modern mass marketing that brands seek to bring people together and force them to overcome stereotypes and differences. This can be explained both by the brand’s desire to present itself in an ethically best light, and by the need to reach as large a demographic as possible. Large corporations, in particular food manufacturers, are so popular that they can target demographics, overcoming demographic barriers.
Therefore, the characters acquire a certain political connotation within the framework of this commercial. The variety of colors of the sweets and the fact that there is no dominant color among them in the package can be interpreted as a proclamation of ethnic and cultural diversity. So the multitude of characters and their characteristics, ranging from confident and frivolous to flirtatious and exhilarating, should mean that the brand is tolerant of any type of consumer. At the same time, advertising strenuously avoids so-called phenotypic characteristics, which can be perceived as caricatured and therefore offensive (Lorite Garcia et al., 2018). M&M’S also expresses the ongoing chain of inclusivity with this ad. The video montage, which includes multi-colored and diverse candy characters connected by the union “and”, continues the chain, including the words “I”, “you”, “we”. This implies that the advertising characters are likened to the audience, and the brand seeks to blur the line between them.
However, in general, it should be noted that the brand had some hints of a marketing campaign being carried out in 2022. This brand has always been distinguished by the low cost of its product and, therefore, high availability. This implies that M&M’s, although intended to include child and parental demographics, has always potentially sought to overcome these targetological limitations. The desire for diversity should also be explained in terms of the boom in consumerist-oriented tactics that emerged from the free market of the 1980s and noted by Underhill (2009). In their advertising M&M’s successfully combine the logic of freedom of consumer choice with the freedom of self-representation and cultural diversity.
The plot of the advertisement turns out to be less narrative and more subject to the logic of communicating its established slogan policy. The brand makes this advertisement a vivid visual accompaniment to its slogan program, which is focused on literally every person. At the same time, through the statement “together we can make this a reality”, it is intended to engage the consumer and convey to them a sense of ownership (M&M’S Chocolate, 2022). As part of the visual range, advertising lists several ways in which the consumer interacts with the product and the mythology surrounding it. Bright dragees displayed on smartphone screens hint that the audience can interact with the brand through special applications. Immediately after the statement that the brand accepts everyone, the grandiose official product store is shown to the viewer. Showcasing mesmerizing interiors filled with massive amounts of colorful jelly beans, the brand seeks to prove that it makes reality the utopia of diversity and freedom of consumption.
Perhaps, in addition to the political agenda, one can find a crisis of specific targeting in such a generalized demographic message. Gladwell (1996), in his article on the science of shopping, argues that each of the brands seeks to occupy a certain unique niche that will embody some clear characteristic. However, as customer needs become more complex, they become increasingly difficult to meet. As part of this advertising, the brand seeks to satisfy as many consumers as possible, making the message as generalized as possible. Uniting in the name of freedom and diversity – something like this can describe the goals set by this advertisement.
One of the visuals in this ad is a row of legs in colorful socks and sneakers clustered around a M&M’s candy. All color combinations are different, but retain their brightness. This perhaps expresses the idea of advertising at the color level – all colors are different, but belong to a bright and optimistic color palette. All advertising is made in simple and bright colors, red, green, yellow. The most visually favorable background color is selected for each color of the dragee displayed on the screen. Overall, the shape of the jelly beans is the defining characteristic of the advertising style, which is done in a pop art style with circular visual patterns.
Thus, this advertisement demonstrates several characteristic trends for modern marketing. M&M’s are appropriating their own cultural heritage, adapting it to new marketing needs. By targeting the widest possible demographic and promoting a product meant for everyone, the brand offers the motto of total inclusion in the name of shared fun. The multi-coloredness of the dragees and characters begins to have a double meaning within the framework of the idea of inclusiveness, calling for overcoming cultural stereotypes. The brand is trying to convince the audience of the humanistic purpose of this ad and give them a sense of ownership in the mission to create a better world.
Gladwell, M. (1996). The science of shopping. The New Yorker. Web.
Lorite Garcia, N., Grau Rebollo, J., & de Sousa Lacerda, J. (2018). Representation of sociocultural diversity in audiovisual advertising: Materials for inclusive treatment. Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, 73, 425-446. Web.
M&M’S Chocolate. (2022). M&M’S: For all funkind [Video]. YouTube. Web.
Underhill, P. (2009). Why we buy: The science of shopping. Simon & Schuster.