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The 46th Super Bowl, featuring the New England Patriots and the New York Giants, is right around the corner. But for many viewers, more important than which teams are playing is the question of which commercials will stand out from the rest. 

For the 2012 Super Bowl, advertising costs have reached $3.5 million for 30 seconds of airtime—a significant jump from the 2011 level of $3 million for 30 seconds. But other numbers seem to justify the price increase, in that 111 million people watched last year’s Super Bowl XLV, a record for the largest audience to watch an individual television program.

Most of the familiar brands will return to this year’s commercial lineup, including Anheuser-Busch, Bridgestone, CareerBuilder, Cars.com, Coca-Cola, General Motors, GoDaddy.com, Hyundai, PepsiCo, Toyota, and Volkswagen. The Mars candy company also has some big plans for its M&Ms brand: It will be introducing a new character to represent the long ignored brown candies.

Ms. Brown will join the red, yellow, blue, green, and orange M&Ms characters. She takes on the position of Chief Chocolate Officer. It seems hard to believe that brown M&Ms have never been represented with a cartoon spokes-character, and consumers have asked about it. For example, a 2010 contest that asked consumers to vote for their favorite character pushed many of them to wonder why they could not yet vote for brown M&Ms.

Thus the timing seems perfect. M&MS have been missing from quite a few recent Super Bowls, as Mars focused its budgets on advertising its Snickers brand. But the arrival of Ms. Brown makes for an exciting new substitution on the field.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why might Mars choose this platform to introduce Ms. Brown?
  2. Are Super Bowl commercials worth their high prices?

Source: Stuart Elliott, “M&M’s to Unveil New Speaking Role at Super Bowl,” The New York Times, January 16, 2012.

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