August 18th, 2008

M&M’s Get Sweet on Hispanics

By Evelyn Lee
NJ Biz

Mars launches a new Latino marketing campaign for the candy brand

M&M’s, the iconic, colorful chocolate candies, have lately been taking on a more Latino flair. Hackettstown-based Mars Snackfood US, last month launched a new M&M’s marketing campaign targeting what the company calls an increasingly important Hispanic consumer base.

“The Hispanic market is growing and there’s a lot of opportunity there to create dedicated marketing to the group,” says Ryan Bowling, spokesman for Mars Snackfood, a division of Mars North America, the food, snack and pet care products maker. “It’s an area that we’re focusing on heavily.”

Mars had done Hispanic marketing for M&M’s back in 2006, when it ran Spanish-language print advertisements promoting the candies, but those were essentially English-language ads that were repurposed for a Hispanic audience, he says. With the new marketing campaign, the ads were designed specifically for Hispanic consumers, according to Bowling.

“This Hispanic campaign is playing an even more significant role in our core marketing for the M&M’s brand,” he says.

Although he declined to give specifics, Bowling says the Hispanic population “makes up a substantial percentage of our consumer base.”

In addition to M&M’s, Hispanic consumers are also big buyers of other Mars brands, particularly Snickers and Starburst, he says. Mars has already done Hispanic-oriented marketing for both of those brands, according to Bowling. Last year, the company ran a Hispanic television advertising campaign for Snickers, and this year is sponsoring Fox Sports En Espanol through the candy bar brand. Mars is also running a Hispanic television ad this year for Starburst, he says.

In addition, the company has a partnership with Ingrid Hoffman, host of the Food Network’s “Simply Delicioso,” a Latin-inspired cooking show, and a regular correspondent for “The Today Show.” Hoffman frequently contributes recipes for Mars’ Web site, http://www.brightideas.com, which offers gift and entertaining ideas using Mars products, according to Bowling.

The new M&M’s marketing campaign features two Hispanic celebrities, actor Wilmer Valderrama and talk show host Christina Saralegui, who will be appearing in print advertisements nationwide in People En Espanol. In the magazine’s July issue, Valderrama’s ad featured a replica of the actor as an M&M’s chocolate candy, posing on the red carpet, with adoring fans in the background. Saralegui’s ad, which will appear in the October issue of People En Espanol, shows the star as a bright yellow M&M’s candy wearing matching pumps and carrying a microphone in hand.

Mars hired LatinWorks, an Austin, Texas-based Hispanic advertising agency that the company has worked with on its Snickers and Starburst Hispanic marketing efforts, to come up with the new M&M’s campaign. In addition to providing creative design services, LatinWorks also helped to identify the stars for the People En Espanol ads. Mars was looking for Hispanic stars whose personalities reflected the fun nature of the M&M’s brand, were widely known celebrities and appealed strongly to the Hispanic market, according to Bowling. He adds that Mars wants the stars to capture the attention of a broad audience. 

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