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MARS THINKING SMALL FOR BIG M&M EXTENSION; MINIS ROLLOUT OPENS IN SEPT.; $10 MIL CAMPAIGN SET FOR '97

By Published on .

M&M/Mars next month will introduce the latest extension of its top-selling chocolate candy brand with the national launch of M&M Minis.

M&M Minis are said by candy industry insiders to be just one product in a grab bag the company is experimenting with for possible introduction. Others under consideration are believed to include a crunchy-rice M&M and a caramel version.

Mars is repackaging M&M Minis, a seasonal product first introduced last year in boxes shaped like school buses and fire trucks, for a rollout beginning Sept. 9. Now packaged in resealable plastic tubes and aimed at 2-to-6-year-olds, M&M Minis will be backed by a network TV and print campaign estimated at $10 million from BBDO Worldwide, New York.

But in an unusual move, ads won't actually begin running until January, giving the company time to complete national distribution.

The media schedule includes Sports Illustrated for Kids, Marvel Comics and cable TV's Nickelodeon.

The Minis launch capitalizes on M&M's hot status and the trend toward miniature candies. Supported by $43 million in measured marketing spending last year, M&Ms climbed to $433 million in sales, fueled by new products such as its blue M&Ms.

Miniature chocolates are also one of the most dynamic segments in candy, with snack or fun-size bars growing 9.3% to $801.3 million for the 52 weeks ended June 16, according to Information Resources Inc.

While rival Hershey Foods Corp. still leads the segment, up 5.9% to a 43.8% share, Mars is closing in fast, with a 39.8% share, up 13.6%.

The company already markets a miniature M&M for baking that was supported with $4 million in measured media last year.M&M/Mars next month will introduce the latest extension of its top-selling chocolate candy brand with the national launch of M&M Minis.

Mars is repackaging M&M Minis, a seasonal product first introduced last year in boxes shaped like school buses and fire trucks, for a rollout beginning Sept. 9. Now packaged in resealable plastic tubes and aimed at 2-to-6-year-olds, M&M Minis will be backed by a network TV and print campaign estimated at $10 million from BBDO Worldwide, New York.

But in an unusual move, ads won't actually begin running until January, giving the company time to complete national distribution.

The media schedule includes Sports Illustrated for Kids, Marvel Comics and cable TV's Nickelodeon.

M&M Minis are said by candy industry insiders to be just one product in a grab bag the company is experimenting with for possible introduction. Others under consideration are believed to include a crunchy-rice M&M and a caramel version. In addition, a candy industry player said Mars is known to be working on a seasonal chocolate Easter egg that when opened spills out M&Ms.

The Minis launch capitalizes on M&M's hot status and the trend toward miniature candies. Supported by $43 million in measured marketing spending last year, M&Ms climbed to $433 million in sales, fueled by new products such as its blue M&Ms.

Miniature chocolates are also one of the most dynamic segments in candy, with snack or fun-size bars growing 9.3% for the 52 weeks ended June 16, according to Information Resources Inc., to $801.3 million.

While rival Hershey Foods Corp. still leads the segment, with a 43.8% share, up 5.9%, Mars is closing in fast, with a 39.8% share, up 13.6%. Mars' earlier miniature products, such as 3 Musketeers and Milky Way, have been hugely successful for the marketer.

The company already markets a miniature M&M for baking that was supported with $4 million in measured media last year.

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