M&Ms: Mars announces new makeover to M&Ms candies to reflect a 'more dynamic, progressive world'

The M&Ms have had a modern makeover - but people have a sour taste in their mouths.
The M&Ms have had a modern makeover - but people have a sour taste in their mouths. Photo credit: Mars, Incorporated

M&M's iconic characters are getting a modern makeover to reflect "the more dynamic, proressive world that we live in", the manufacturer of the popular treat said in an announcement that has left many with a sour taste in their mouths. 

In a statement on Thursday (local time), multinational manufacturer Mars, Incorporated announced it would be "refreshing" and modernising the M&M's brand, which began more than 80 years ago, with a new global commitment to creating "a world where everyone feels they belong".

"This year the brand continues to evolve to reflect the more dynamic, progressive world that we live in. And as part of this evolution, built on purpose, M&M’S promises to use the power of fun to include everyone with a goal of increasing the sense of belonging for 10 million people around the world by 2025," Mars said on Thursday.

As part of the brand's transition, its beloved M&M's are getting a makeover. The contemporised candy characters will feature "more nuanced personalities" to underscore the importance of "self-expression and power of community through storytelling", Mars said.

"The refreshed M&M's brand will include a more modern take on the looks of our beloved characters, as well as more nuanced personalities."

Additionally, M&M's branding will reflect an "updated tone of voice" that is more "inclusive, welcoming, and unifying", while remaining rooted in "our signature jester wit and humour". There will also be an added emphasis on the ampersand (&) to demonstrate "how the brand aims to bring people together".

The most dramatic makeovers appear to have been given to the female M&Ms, the brown and the green. Once clad in white heeled boots, white gloves and lip gloss with coyly raised eyebrows, the brand had faced backlash in the past for portraying the green M&M as 'too sexualised'. But the stilettos are no longer, with the new-look M&M now sporting white trainers and tights - a style that better "reflect[s] confidence and empowerment", a Mars spokesperson told local media.

"As a strong female, and known for much more than her boots."

The new-look female M&Ms have caused quite a stir online, with Mars removing the boots from the original Ms Green in favour of sneakers.
The new-look female M&Ms have caused quite a stir online, with Mars removing the boots from the original Ms Green in favour of sneakers. Photo credit: Mars, Incorporated

The brown M&M, which features a pair of rectangular specs and white stilettos, appears to have had her heels shortened to a more professional pump. 

The two female characters will also enjoy a "more friendly relationship", Mars said, showcasing a "force supporting women".

It comes almost seven years after Mars teased a possible romantic relationship between the green and brown M&Ms in a viral tweet shared in 2015 - two days after the US Supreme Court effectively legalised gay marriage. The tweet featured an image of the two characters clasping hands while sitting on a beach, with the caption: "It's rare Ms. Brown and I get to spend time together without some colourful characters barging in - Ms. Green".

Meanwhile, the 'anxious' M&M - orange - has been dubbed by Mars as "one of the most relatable characters with Gen-Z, the most anxious generation". To better reflect his preoccupied personality and cautious nature, the orange M&M's once untied shoelaces will now be knotted in neat bows.

The red M&M, who often vacillates between both leader and bully, will be adjusted to be more kind to his fellow characters, while the yellow M&M, who has a dim-witted disposition, appears to be relatively unchanged. 

The M&Ms website now features a new 'Q&A' with each of the characters to showcase their new and "nuanced" personalities. While the brown M&M is "not bossy, just the boss", the green M&M is "too busy shining to throw shade". Anxious orange, meanwhile, finds your lack of concern "extremely concerning".

As part of the transition to a more progressive image, Mars also plans to commit to gender-balanced leadership teams and an independent annual diversity audit of the company's advertising.  

"M&M's has long been committed to creating colorful fun for all, and this purpose serves as a more concrete commitment to what we've always believed as a brand: that everyone has the right to enjoy moments of happiness, and fun is the most powerful way to help people feel that they belong," said Cathryn Sleight, Chief Growth Officer at Mars Wrigley.  

But it appears the new-look branding hasn't hit the right note with everyone, with the announcement not getting the sweet reception Mars might've hoped for.

Some pointed out that stripping Green of her sex appeal had stripped her of her identity.

"Who's idea was it to strip this icon [green M&M] of her gloss, gloves and embellished boots? She knew who she was, the other M&Ms are who need reinventing!" one person said on Instagram. 

"Give her back her go-go boots, lip gloss and winged liner," said another.

Others poked fun at Mars' apparent bid to appeal to a new and 'woke' demographic, saying it had been taken too far. 

"Someone looks at a bag of M&Ms and says, 'I feel excluded'," one joked on Twitter.

"Losing the voting rights bill and getting woke M&Ms instead feels about right," Jezebel editor-in-chief Laura Bassett tweeted.

"Women: Everyone's lives would improve if we had things like paid family leave, universal pre-K, affordable child care, and the ability to make informed decisions about our reproductive futures. Capitalism: Lol no but please enjoy these feminist M&Ms," Bitch Media co-founded Andi Zeisler wrote.

"WHO HAS EVER SEEN M&MS AND THOUGHT, 'THEY DON'T REPRESENT ME'," another, angrier, Twitter user asked.

"We just wanted the police defunded, reparations, and trans lives to matter… but instead the peanut M&M is now they/them Afro-Latinx," writer Richard Newby weighed in.

"No POC or queer person was like, 'wow, I really do wish more M&Ms looked like me'. Selling the illusion of progress. Still gonna eat 'em tho."