Ad Space – M&Ms: What Is It About the Green Ones?

You are now entering Ad Space, a realm of commercials, brought before us so we might examine how they work, and discuss why we both love and hate them so. So it is written …

The Product:
M&M candies

The Promotions:

The Pitch:
I had something here that played on the “melt in your mouth, not in your hands” slogan, but it got far dirtier than I was comfortable with!

So … there’s a lot going on with these Green M&M ads.

On the one hand, it seems like the product of very old-fashioned and sexist thinking. Having already had great success with the Red and Yellow M&M spokescandies (and middling success with Blue), the decision was made to expand the campaign with a Green M&M. And since the first three roles went to dudes, maybe this one should be a woman (that comes out to even, right?). But since she’s a woman, she’s gotta be sexy! That’ll be her whole personality! (Does “sexy” count as a personality? Television says, yes!)

Except … she’s still an M&M. They gave her a female voice actor, gave her eyelashes and a pair of high heels, and maybe made her legs a bit … shapelier, but despite those gender coding touches, she’s still just shaped like an M&M candy.

Some people will be into that (Rule 34, and all), but for most, treating this green concave disc as the epitome of the sexiness? It clearly reads as a parody of sexualization, not an earnest attempt at it.

And there’s still one more factor in play. See, it turns out there’s this old urban legend that the dye in green M&Ms acted as an aphrodisiac, so having Green M&M be the stuff of libidinous fantasies was meant to be riffing on that. I was completely unaware of this context until recently, but having learned it, I can now make a great deal more sense out of this ad: