While the real estate industry is known to employ some innovative tactics for promotional marketing, this time there was a reversal of roles when the Mars candy company used real estate to create a captivating event to celebrate the 75th anniversary of M&M’s. This past March, Mars hosted the event at New York City’s Altman building. The theme centered around the characters that have become the candy’s mascot. Though not quite as old as the candy itself, which hit the market in 1941, anthropomorphic, talking M&M’s first appeared in advertisements in 1954. But these were black and white, and only came in two varieties, peanut and plain. The colorful “spokescandies” that we know today came into being at the same time as blue M&M’s, in 1995. And they proved so popular that they continue as powerful marketing icons to this day.
For the March 3rd event, the company created “apartments” to go with each M&M’s character’s specific personality. Yellow’s child-like personality was showcased with a yellow-ball filled fun pit and GIF booth where attendees could make their own. Green’s flirty side was captured in a makeup vanity complete with green lipstick. Blue’s apartment was a suave bachelor pad. And brainy Brown’s apartment perfectly summed up her classy intellectual personality, with an office and her trademark glasses left on the desk. These weren’t just surface assessments of their mascots though. To properly celebrate the 75th anniversary, Mars dug deep into the history and lore of M&M’s and their marketing campaigns of the past. A Statue of Liberty model in Green’s room alluded to the time she floated down the Hudson dressed as Lady Liberty for a 2007 promotion. Red’s room had a vintage poster that made reference to the reason why M&M’s were originally created as MREs for WWII soldiers. And Brown’s apartment had a script based on the often told legend that Van Halen’s concert rider includes a clause forbidding brown M&M’s from the dressing room.
To make this a truly red carpet worthy event, Mars did more than just roll out the red carpet (although roll out the red carpet they did). There were candy shop dispensers of M&M’s in all sorts of unseen colors, inviting guests to vote on new ones and also take some home. There were passed hors d’oeuvres and mini grilled cheeses served with shots of tomato soup. There was also a full bar, featuring cocktails based on each M&M. Additionally there were multiple interactive components, including stations set up throughout the event, with headphones and tablets, allowing participants to engage in an augmented reality experience, as well as allow them to shuffle M&M’s to create their own rendition of Sammy Davis Jr.’s iconic “The Candy Man.” This song served as the theme for the evening, as the original Sammy Davis Jr. song was used in vintage M&M ads, and the event’s grand finale was a live remake of the song by Zedd and Aloe Blacc, titled “Candyman,” which has already gotten 10 million hits online. Although this was a massive event, it’s just kicking off the anniversary celebrations, as Mars plans to repackage aspects of the event on a smaller scale to serve up at different locations across the country, as well as developing a virtual reality version.