M&M’s swaps shoes, and spokespersons

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Caroline Hendrix, Opinions Editor

When a company launches a new campaign, they aim to spark conversation. In Jan. 2022, Mars Wrigley announced that it would be making changes to it’s M&M’s spokescandies. The adjustments proved most obvious in the footwear of these icons. From stilettos to kitten heels, boots to sneakers, untied to tied, and laceless to laces.

They also introduced a new purple M. Mars aimed to create a stronger sense of belonging and inclusivity that better represented their consumership, according to president of Mars Wrigley North America, Anton Vincent. — but What Mars and Vincent could not have accounted for was the backlash from Fox News host Tucker Carlson, among others, who condemned the brand for trying to make the spokescandies ‘woke’. 

M&M’s tweeted amidst backlash that they “weren’t sure if anyone would even notice” the changes to their spokescandies throughout 2022. Tucker Carlson definitely noticed. He criticized the spokescandies for their ‘wokeness,’ claiming that when “you’re totally turned off, we’ve achieved equity.” NPR reports that he even goes as far as to call the new purple M&M “obese.” 

Carlson has entirely missed the point. The cartoon characters do not exist to have features and accessories that he deems attractive, but rather to appeal to a larger audience and foster more inclusivity. And for someone so against cancel culture, actively bullying the purple M, a fictitious character, for its shoes and weight does not seem like the best career move. And Carlson is not alone, with Kat Timpf also calling out the green M for her red flags and being “an opportunistic, evil bitch,” according to The Guardian.

The controversy has led Mars in the past week to pause M&M’s rebranding and replace the spokescandies with Maya Rudolph in the interim. In their statement, they “introduce a spokesperson America can agree on: the beloved Maya Rudolph. We are confident Ms. Rudolph will champion the power of fun to create a world where everyone feels they belong.”

Even following the statement, Fox News continues to condemn M&Ms and their alleged defeat to “Corporate ESG policies [that] are determined to wokeify every corporation that the left hasn’t already conquered.”

How did we get here? Yes, it is important to understand that every change a brand makes comes as a result of a decision with consequences. But it is also important to be critical about whether or not these consequences are positive or negative. Mars was trying to connect with their consumers with a change as minor as the shoes on the feet of their fictitious spokescandies. Nothing negative here. Regardless, is this really something that should take up air time? There are many more pressing issues that media outlets should be concerning themselves with. 

If anything, this controversy should hold up a mirror to the media. This is not to say that marketing campaigns should be left in the dust of conversation, but how and how much we talk about them needs to be reconsidered. Changes to create a sense of belonging should not be painted as a leftist takeover. More than ever, the consumer needs to be critical about the validity and intent of the information they are being fed.

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