At the recent Mush for a Cure event, my 10-year-old granddaughter RaeAnne noticed that many participants had the pink Mush for a Cure logo emblazoned on their T-shirt or sweatshirt. She asked why and I had the opportunity to explain a little about marketing to her.
“It’s because they want us to advertise for them,” I said. I proudly support the Mush for a Cure fundraiser with my brown hooded sweatshirt with its pink dog sled team logo. It’s one of my favorite Cook County events and an amazing fundraiser for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. So I don’t mind advertising for it.
But I admitted to RaeAnne that we go a little overboard in this country, plastering logos on everything from T-shirts and socks to coffee mugs and license plates. To which my clever granddaughter replied, “Like our M&M plates?”
I had to laugh. She was exactly right. Our family is obsessed with M&Ms. We are walking advertisements for M&M, with all kinds of M&M merchandise in our houses.
Well, mostly my house. And it all started with the plates.
It started as a way to keep peace in the household when all of the grandchildren came to visit. Of course we have child-sized dishes at our house. What respectable grandparent doesn’t? But the problem was we had three pretty pink dishes in Hello Kitty or Disney Princess themes and one Sesame Street plate. And five grandchildren.
There were frequent arguments over who got to eat off the Hello Kitty plate and who got the princess plate or the Big Bird plate. And someone was left out entirely and had to eat off a plain old adult plate.
Cups were even more concerning, as two of the grandkids have milk allergies. Again, I had some Hello Kitty cups and a dinosaur cup. Once the cups were filled with milk-free milk and chocolate syrup—how did we know which cup should go to which child? It was a bit of a hassle keeping it all straight.
Being the good grandmother I am, I decided we had to get some new plates and cups for the kids. So I started looking at dishes while out shopping. I thought about buying each grandchild her or his own themed set, but cute little kids’ dish sets can be very expensive. I refused to pay as much for a little plastic plate as I would for a four-piece set of Corel.
Then, in one of those serendipitous moments that happen all too infrequently, I found the perfect set. Amazingly, it was a set of exactly five plates. I don’t know who in the world would want only five plates. Normally dish sets come in even numbers of six or eight place settings. But five plates were perfect for this grandmother.
The plates were also bright and cheerful. Each plate was the color of one of the candies in an M&M package and had an imprint of a smiling M&M character.
I was delighted to also find a set of kids’ cups in the same colors and characters.
After designating an M&M color for each grandchild—yellow for RaeAnne, green for Genevieve, blue for Carter, orange for AnnaBelle, and red for Eloise—we had no more arguments or confusion over whose strawberry Quik was whose.
The parents of my grandchildren thought it was silly at first. The grandkids and I remember what color goes to whom. But there were many meals dished up with questions, “What color is Eloise?” and “Who gets the yellow cup?”
But after a bit of use, everyone got on board with the M&M system. It really does make dinnertime go more smoothly.
Some of the grandkids enjoying waffles on their special M&M character plates. I like using the misfit Sesame Street plate!
When family members made trips to Las Vegas recently, the M&M craze made the decision of what sort of souvenir to bring home easy as well. They had to make a stop at the M&M store on the strip. If you ever get to Las Vegas, you have to check it out. It has every sort of M&M accessory imaginable. There are giant stuffed M&Ms and tiny M&M charms. There are clothes of all sizes and styles decorated with the quirky M&M characters. And of course there are M&Ms of every color you could ever wish for.
So of course, our travelers brought home M&M souvenirs. We all recently received M&M pens and little plush M&Ms that clip to a backpack.
We are all a little goofy over M&Ms. The grandkids think it is hilarious that “their” characters are on TV. We all gasped with mock horror when RaeAnne’s yellow M&M was threatened by a mobster in the M&M Super Bowl commercial. We all laughed at the thought of her being chopped up and served on top of a bowl of ice cream.
Of course M&M is always looking at new ways to promote itself— remember the 1995 “Vote for your favorite color” ad campaign?—so recently they introduced a new character, a dark brown M&M. For some reason, the grandkids decided that I needed to join them and be this M&M character. The new M&M is a girl and wears glasses and she seems smart, so I don’t mind.
I guess I should have a talk with the grandkids about M&M’s marketing. We apparently are the target demographic for those commercials. I want them to be smart shoppers who know better than to get lured in by clever ads. I want them to enjoy M&Ms candies if they like the taste and not just because M&M says they should with a silly ad campaign. I think they are smart enough to understand.
We’ve already had a few discussions of how we are not like our M&M characters. We are all smarter than a piece of candy that melts in your mouth, not in your hand!
Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.