Popular candymaker Mars announced that it is giving some of its most popular candy mascots — the six multicolored M&M characters — a makeover in an effort to make them more inclusive.
Michelle Chapman and Anne D’Innocenzio of The Associated Press reported that “the company said that it will provide a modern take on the appearances of the characters — which Mars calls ‘lentils’ — and give them more nuanced personalities. The lentils, which are featured in red, green, orange, yellow, brown and blue, will also come in different shapes and sizes.”
According to Chapman and D’Innocenzio, “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 the high-heeled boots in favor of sneakers, and the brown candy no longer wears stilettos, opting instead for lower heels.”
In a statement posted to the company’s website, Mars wrote, “Our ambition is to upend the expected, break through barriers and discover the little joys shared in everyday life. Imagine a world with less judgment, more connection and consistent laughter.”
The company, which also makes Twix and Snickers, said that it will also emphasize the ampersand in the M&M’s logo going forward to “demonstrate how the brand aims to bring people together.”
While companies becoming more inclusive is never a bad idea, two marketing experts that AP spoke to think this rebranding may have gone a bit too far.
Allen Adamson, a co-founder of marketing consultancy company Metaforce, said overhauling the characters was a “good idea” but added the move may be on the “verge of potential overthink.” Marketing consultant Laura Ries agreed, telling Chapman and D’Innocenzio, “They’re looking for some attention and trying to jump on the bandwagon of trying to be more inclusive. I don’t think there was an outcry of the overall sexualization of the M&M. It’s just an M&M.”
Mars isn’t the only company to revamp one of its mascots in recent years. In 2020, Uncle Ben’s rice rebranded its packages over criticism of the potentially racist caricature on the front of its box. And Quaker Oats’ Aunt Jemima brand pancake mix and syrup ditched their name entirely, deciding it was based on a racial stereotype that the company could no longer endorse. The newly renamed products were relaunched as “Pearl Milling Company.”