How M&Ms Took a Small Insight and Turned It into a Big Idea

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M&Ms turns 75 years old and launches a year-long celebration for its fans.

To celebrate its 75th anniversary, M&Ms Milk Chocolate Candies launched a yearlong campaign, “Celebrate with M”, that helped M&Ms grow eight times faster.

“We started the other way around,” says Berta de Pablos-Barbier, Vice President, Marketing, Mars Chocolate North America. “We started digital-first versus TV-first; we actually focused a lot on cultural integration; and we allowed ourselves to have some creative freedom to make sure that we met our creative ambitions.”

Rather than focus on the exact 75th anniversary, or on one product attribute or historical detail, the “Celebrate with M” campaign hit different notes throughout the year. Fans were able get in on the action by following the #CelebratewithM hashtag and M&M’S social media pages for epic birthday surprises, exclusive access to one-of-a-kind experiences, the ability to determine the next M&M’S flavor to hit store shelves and more.

The year-long bash put a modern twist on an iconic classic, with a focus on building brand awareness among millennial and Generation Z consumers. The celebration kicked-off with the release of “Candyman,” a modern remake of Sammy Davis Jr.’s The Candy Man song featuring multi-platinum, Grammy award winning artist Zedd and Grammy nominated musician and songwriter Aloe Blacc in partnership with M&M’S.

To create excitement, the confectioner brought three new flavors to stores—Chili Nut, Honey Nut and Coffee Nut—and asked consumers to vote for a new limited-edition flavor. Coffee Nut was declared the winner after more than 1 million votes were cast.

The idea of doing creative work with a “digital first” philosophy will continue for M&Ms.

“User-generated content is going to be very predominant in our communication in 2017,” said Ms. de Pablos-Barbier.

There is also a major product launch near the middle of the year to help propel the brand. Caramel M&Ms will debut in bright blue bags in May.


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