If you haven't listened to this week's episode you are in for quite a treat. The first 10 minutes is me and Jeff discussing the new identities (illnesses? plagues? personalities?) of the classic M&M characters. They are ridiculous.
Much to Jeff's chagrin, the green M&M is no longer the floozy she once was - and this author at Rollingstone is equally as displeased with it as Brother Hansen.
But let's get to the crux of this:
Nobody gives a flying [expletive of your choice here] about the M&M characters.
This is classic virtue signalling and while Mars Co is apparently on the planet Mars, the rest of us on Earth are here with actual things that matter.
Instead of making the Orange M&M suffer from anxiety, maybe, I don't know, actually help fund research around anxiety? Or do a campaign where an executive at Mars shares their story about struggling with anxiety and how they have worked to overcome that and still be wildly successful?
Now, there is an opposite of virtue signalling, which is "vice signalling" where you are just a jerk about going against the virtuous grain (like bragging about how you told your vegan sister in law that a dish at Christmas was vegan but really it wasn't and now you think you're super cool for it). We are not fans of that either.
Really it all boils down to this:
- It's not that hard to not be an a-hole
- Help your neighbors
If you need this summed up into a simple rule, just ask yourself, "what would Mr. Rogers do?"
I know Mars is a huge company, but companies are amoral. They have no feelings, for better or worse. They are just the people the work there. For every scrooge there's a business owner who will give freely - like owner of the bakery that instructed a driver to open the back and feed other people stuck on I-95.
Is it good publicity for the guy to give away free food? Sure. Did he do it just because he thought it was a good PR move? Maybe. But even if he did, it made a bigger impact than changed the height of the high heels donned by the brown m&m.
If you are a business owner, do things that actually help people. If you want a feel-good PR campaign, make it something that will make somebody's day, not roll their eyes.
And for everybody else, you can try to protest Mars in general, but good luck. That means no Snickers, Twix, Milky Ways and pretty much every brand of stick gum. Just avoid M&Ms. They're overrated anyway.