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24th Jan 2023

M&M’s pull character mascots following ‘severe backlash’ over ‘less sexy design’

Fiona Frawley

Who would have thought the green M&M popping on a pair of runners would be so controversial?

If you’ve been following the M&M characters on their journey since the ad where one of them was having an affair with a human woman (somehow we never questioned it), you’re probably aware of the controversy Ms. Brown and pals have been facing over the past year.

In January 2022, M&Ms updated the character mascots as part of a “global commitment to creating a world where everyone feels they belong and society is inclusive”, the candy’s parent company, Mars Inc, said at the time.

Changes involved two of the female M&M characters wearing less stereotypically feminine attire – a pair of runners for “sexy” green instead of her trademark knee-high boots, and a slightly lower heel for the more matronly Ms Brown.

The ‘less sexy’ M&M characters, unveiled in January 2022 

The rebrand was met with backlash from prominent conservative figures, including Fox News host Tucker Carlson who complained that the sweets now looked “less sexy”.

“M&M’s will not be satisfied until every last cartoon character is deeply unappealing and totally androgynous. Until the moment you wouldn’t want to have a drink with any one of them. That’s the goal,” Carlson said at the time.

The brown and green M&M characters before the rebrand, image via Twitter/M&Ms

Fast forward a year and M&M’s have gone one step farther, opting to pull the characters completely as ‘spokescandies’. In their absence, Saturday Night Live star Maya Rudolph is onboarding as ‘Chief of Fun’.

In an “it’s not you it’s us” type statement, M&M’s explained their reasoning for retiring the characters.

America, let’s talk. In the last year, we’ve made some changes to our beloved spokescandies. We weren’t sure if anyone would even notice. And we definitely didn’t think it would break the internet. But now we get it – even a candy’s shoes can be polarizing.

… We have decided to take an indefinite pause from the spokescandies. In their place, we are proud to introduce a spokesperson America can agree on: the beloved Maya Rudolph. We are confident Ms Rudolph will champion the power of fun to create a world where everyone feels they belong.

M&M’s have officially pulled their character mascots. 

Just don’t wear runners or a slightly sensible heel, Maya. Fox News’ll be up in arms.

Header image via Twitter/M&M’s 

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