The strategy, after the controversy on the internet
In addition to putting characters that have represented the brand for more than 69 years on hiatus, M&M’s said it would replace them in the new campaigns with actress Maya Rudolph. “We are confident that Ms. Rudolph will champion the power of fun to create a world where everyone feels like they belong,” M&M’s said.
However, this set off the alarms again, not only because at the next Super Bowl the audience will be on the bench watching the brand’s new chief fun officer, but also because the reaction to M&M’s causes disagreements among marketing specialists.
For David González Natal, partner and general director of the Northern Region of the LLYC consultancy, the decision makes sense and fits with the trend that consumers increasingly want to interact with people and not with brands, logos or pets. “Although I also believe that everything is combinable and that the key is whether the brand is able to enter the conversation and be relevant,” he says.
Aleythia Reyes, a Marketing teacher at the Campus Tlalnepantla Banking and Business School, believes that choosing Maya is very effective for the US market; perhaps it is for a segment of the Mexican market that is familiar with her films, “but the question is, what does Maya mean for the rest of the world? Is she even known to the bulk of the global market? The risk is to confuse the consumer, to seem like a copy of the emblematic brand, ”she points out.
By contrast, Rodrigo Díez, CEO of the branding consultancy Padre Group, does not believe that the M&M strategy has gone wrong. In his opinion, it is a strategy designed to generate awareness in the context of the Super Bowl. It is seeking to generate a link with consumers through the election of Maya Rudolph. The rear windows will continue to be part of the brand, this is a one-off campaign, rescue.
And with him agrees Aline Moreno Ríos, coordinator of the Master’s Degree in Marketing and Advertising at the Universidad Iberoamericana, who believes that the rear windows are here to stay. “Usually it is very effective to use the image of a person instead of a character, mascot or thing, but not in this case where the characters have been created since the 40s. commercial and manage to make a unique connection with the audience. The brand even has a store in Las Vegas and people consume them. Some points in favor, do not change, ”she emphasizes.
Polarization, good, bad or convenient?
At first glance it looks like M&M’s made a misstep. However, controversies help to show not only the products, but also the principles and values of a company. In addition, it is precisely the controversies that keep brands in the conversation and in the spotlight. Controversy draws attention and makes people have a reason to talk about them.
“If the campaign is well targeted, it helps you connect with the target audience. But in this case removing the shoes was so controversial that they decided to withdraw them indefinitely. They tried to address a particular problem through impact advertising, and as the name says, this impact can be positive or negative”, says Moreno.
The polarization in this case can be seen in the difference of opinions, and in the fact that these differences later turned into somewhat conflicting oppositions. González is convinced that polarization is not convenient for any brand, since it destroys the diversity of opinions and trust, which is why it is one of the main problems we currently have.
According to the study The Hidden Drug, carried out by LLYC, polarization has grown 40% in the last five years and its effects are similar to those of any other drug or addiction. “Therefore, I think that polarization is not good for a brand, what brands do need is a bit of conflict that allows them to start conversations and stories, and conflict is not necessarily polarization,” he points out.
Gaby Paredes, head of MBCS Mexico and president of the Círculo Creativo de México, mentions that honesty is always going to be appreciated, especially when the mistake is the product of wanting to enter a discourse that was not necessary to access, since polarization is always a problem, although the trends that move in social networks are increasingly radical and a reality that brands must learn to live with.
For some brands it can be beneficial, but the problem with segregation is that it wins you followers and detractors in equal parts, adds Díez. Polarization is also an easy path and even a vulgar marketing strategy.
“We have many examples of brands, especially in the political field, that have used it ‘successfully’ and it has even helped them win elections. The classic divide and rule is as old as the Roman Empire, but it will generate you die-hard fans and die-hard opponents. There are finer ways to do marketing,” she opines.
The exact dose of inclusion in marketing actions
The specialists consulted agree that there is no perfect dose of inclusion in marketing strategies, but what does coexist in the environment is consistency or lack thereof.
Díez advises brands to review whether they truly advocate inclusion from their DNA. If a brand advocates inclusion, the exact dose is one hundred percent, and if your brand is traditional or defends more archaic values, then the consistent strategy will be not to get involved in inclusion issues. “In an intermediate spectrum are all the other brands that will have to analyze how they position themselves regarding this and other social problems, because society today is going to demand it from them,” he warns.
Today, society is increasingly diverse and people of different races, ethnicities, ages, religions, sexual orientations live in the same community, and all seek representation in brands. Due to this fact, inclusive marketing is implemented, reiterates Moreno.
Despite the fact that inclusive marketing strategies have many benefits for a brand, they must be applied in a natural and respectful way, as it could generate the opposite effect, including contempt from the target consumer. Although the message is aimed at a very specific profile, the important thing is to show real life and, in it, the difference coexists.
“Mars chose to design ‘purple’ to represent acceptance, inclusion and is known for her candid self-expression. According to M&M’s, self-awareness, authenticity and confidence are the driving forces behind ‘purple’s allure and quirky nature, and women around the world are changing the way they define success and happiness. M & M’s is contributing to it with these changes, the good thing is the brand positioning that allows it to return with greater strength and generate expectation, after the Super Bowl ”, she comments.
“In the face of a failed implementation, there are two paths to follow: go ahead and move forward if it is part of a more ambitious strategic plan or, if you have really messed up and hurt sensibilities – regardless of whether you have put a Chocolate tennis or heels- It is worth asking for forgiveness and backing down with the initiative. Ratifying is wise”, concludes Díez.