Michael McBride

Does anyone else miss the light brown M&Ms? Me too.

I knew a few years back when the parent company, Masterfoods announced a contest to re-color M&Ms that my little tan friends were in trouble. Their paltry population was remarkably small when compared to the robust quantities of greens and yellows. I knew immediately that a re-design of the overall color scheme was not the objective, but that this marketing campaign was a direct attack on the rare, khaki jewels that gave M&Ms their earthiness. I could sense the trend toward primary colors would edge out the under represented tannies, and that some "new" "hot" color would replace the staid, and understated anchor in a pallet dominated with the brilliance of primaries.

And I was right. The little gems were soon replaced by the over-used primary blue...I yawned, but lamented the loss of the light brown morsels that had graced the packaging for many years.

But Masterfoods, in the business sense, was right. This was Marketing 101…re-define your product, generate a buzz, re-invigorate the market. So the light brown M&Ms gave it up for the team.

In fact an examination of the marketing of M&Ms over the past twenty years or so would make a case study in any business school. Aside from the marketing scheme outlined above, they have added product…almond M&Ms, white chocolate M&Ms, and mint M&Ms. They have developed product for, and marketed with, The Pirates of the Caribbean movie. They have developed seasonal color combinations that have turned this simple candy into a necessary home accessory for any holiday. They have had a car, adorned with M&Ms caricatures, in the Nextel Cup races for years.

This company works for its sales through innovation, product development and marketing.

A perfect storm of successes that simply invite regulatory interference…and so it comes.

The EU’s authority on such matters, DG Sanco, previously sent Masterfoods an inquiry questioning their marketing practices towards those twelve and younger. My initial response is …”duh…its candy.” Followed closely by…”What’s the next target?”

In light of NYC’s ban on trans fats, the all out assault on smoking anywhere on the planet, and the ever increasing intrusions by government into our lives…can the US be far behind in demanding that our twelve-and-younger crowd be shielded from the temptations of chocolate covered candies that melt in your mouth, but not in your hand?

Michael McBride

Michael E. McBride retired as a Major from the Marine Corps and blogs at http://www.mysandmen.blogspot.com.

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