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The M&M company, recognizing that its brand represents fun for many consumers, has launched a nontraditional advertising campaign in which anyone can create an M&M in the likeness of themselves by visiting http://www.beceomanmm.com, then share their image with friends via e-mail.Whereas marketers want to show up where customers are, consumers want to choose their advertising exposure. This new Website offers a means for consumers to choose to visit, as well as an innovative way for the company to reach customers.  In its first three weeks, the successful campaign achieved more than 2.2 million viewers who embraced the slogan, “There’s an M&M in everyone.”To promote its nontraditional advertising, the M&M company relies on viral marketing prompted by traditional television ads that feature M&M versions of people. Some print ads feature Joan and Melissa Rivers on the red carpet holding microphones; some television commercials include dog-walking M&Ms, M&M office workers, and an M&M couple getting their picture taken in an old-fashioned photo booth.

The M&M marketing campaign thus has been fun for consumers while still enabling the company to reach its market on different fronts, including television, print ads, and the Internet. Although consumers still may confront ads for M&Ms, their further involvement is up to them, depending on whether they choose to visit the Web site and recognize M&M as a lifestyle brand.

Discussion Questions:

1. Should M&M still advertise in traditional media?

Stuart Elliott, “Coming Out of Your (Thin Candy) Shell,” The New York Times, February 12, 2007.