M&M’s introduced its new spokescandy during the Super Bowl Sunday evening when the bespectacled Ms. Brown, the candy brand's 70-year-old (but still looking good) CCO or Chief Chocolate Officer who made her debut in a commercial called "Just My Shell." And it was a shelluva debut indeed.
It used to be that just running a Super Bowl commercial was enough excitement for a corporation’s agency and marketing/communications teams at this time of year, but given the pre- and post-Game buzz marketing on social media that's the norm, M&M's marketers at Mars, Inc., are pulling out the stops for Ms. Brown.
In keeping with the social media underpinning to this year's Super Bowl campaigns, the company pulled off what may have been a first. On Tuesday Mars hosted a live 30-minute Q&A session on the M&M's Facebook page with Vanessa Williams reprising her Super Bowl voiceover debut as the Ms. Brown character.
Playing out the Ms. Brown character's backstory as the previously unseen boss of M&M's, the branded character chat (powered by Ustream) was a first for the brand and for Facebook — not to mention the Desperate Housewives star.
Williams also helped open the pop-up Museum of Chocolate in New York this week, a pop-up gallery (at 468 West Broadway in Soho) featuring 20 pieces of chocolate art. “We're doing a brown carpet event tonight and introducing a 300-pound sculpture of Ms. Brown,” Williams told The Huffington Post before the opening. “She's also making an appearance on ‘Celebrity Apprentice.’ So she's quite busy.”
Besides appearing on Celebrity Apprentice with Donald Trump on Feb. 19th, M&M's also arranged another bit of cross-branding for the Ms. Brown character: her diamond glove links in the spot (depicting the 'M' in M&M's) were designed by Judith Ripka.
Williams tells HuffPo that she took the part because Brown was partially inspired by the character she created on the comedy Ugly Betty, the deliciously nasty magazine editor Wilhemina Slater. She didn’t inform anyone except her youngest daughter that she had done the commercial and then when it aired, she says her cell phone and Twitter page lit up.
Of course she’s not the only one with a Twitter account. Ms. Brown has one too, along with a Facebook page, while she's been taking over the M&M's Facebook page where consumers are paying homage to the candy that’s been around since 1941.
Brown, Green, and Yellow are the only colors of M&Ms to have been produced continuously since then. Violet, which hasn’t been made since the late ‘40s, can only dream of such a thing. Red, meanwhile, made a cameo in Ms. Brown's Super Bowl spot.
Below, a fan pic taken with Williams at the Museum of Chocolate opening in New York: