M&Ms has long been the chocolate candy that melts in your mouth and not in your hands. But for the past few years, it’s also been the candy that sat on the sidelines of the Super Bowl ad game while teammates owned by its parent, Mars Inc., took the field in its place.
“The brand is doing tremendously well and has great momentum,” said Allison Miazga-Bedrick, brand director of M&Ms, owing in part to the introduction of a caramel-flavored version of the iconic candy earlier this year. “It felt like the right time to bring M&Ms back,” she said. The executive declined to discuss sales or revenue figures related to the product.
The decision to return the popular chocolate pieces to the advertising gridiron servers as a reminder that the Super Bowl isn’t for every advertiser every year. PepsiCo in 2017 withdrew its Doritos chips from the game after running ads for a decade. Frito-Lay, the PepsiCo unit that makes and distributes the chips, has announced they will return in 2018 after a one-year hiatus. GoDaddy, the web-services company that had been a stalwart of the game’s marketing lineup for a decade, pulled out in 2016, then returned last year. In decades past, FedEx and Master Lock were regular Super Bowl customers. In recent years, they have been more scarce.
Deciding to get in on the game has become more critical in recent years as the price of entry has soared. The cost of an average 30-second spot has rocketed more than 100% between 2007 and 2016, according to Kantar data – rising to $4.8 million from $2.39 million. NBC has said it is seeking north of $5 million for a half-minute berth in 2018. And that doesn’t take into account the costs of creating a high-quality commercial that potentially requires special effects, celebrities and licensed pop hits; other ad dollars paid to the host network; and ancillary digital, social-media and retail efforts to make sure the campaign connects to consumers.
M&M’s typically advertises in ways that make it stand out, said Miazga-Bedrick – and that includes aligning the product with stand-out media events. “At Mars, we always believe in showing our brands in a big way. It makes sense for us,” she said. Because M&Ms is such a well-known brand, she said, “You have to be big and bold. Still, she acknowledged: “It’s not for everyone. It’s not for every brand.” Kia, Avocados from Mexico and Coca-Cola are among the other advertisers taking part in the game.
In Fox’s 2017 broadcast of Super Bowl LII, Mars fielded ads from Snickers and Skittles. The Snickers ad was broadcast live and featured actor Adam Driver, but got mixed reviews. The Skittles ad proved more heartwarming, showing a boy tossing Skittles up to a young girl’s room in hopes of catching her attention. In reality, members of her family were catching the Skittles in their mouths.
Omnicom Group’s BBDO, an agency that has devised Super Bowl spots for Pepsi and many others over the years, is handling creative duties on the M&Ms spot. Viewers can expect to see the usual talking spokescharacters holding forth in some fashion, Miazga-Bedrick said. The ad is slated to run at some point in the first quarter of the broadcast, she said, and M&Ms expects to start marketing efforts around the Super Bowl after the New Year.