M&M’s is returning to the Oscars for the first time in five years with a campaign meant to make it seem like its animated candy characters are aware of what just happened during the broadcast.
The effort includes two 15-second spots set to run during the pre-Oscars red carpet broadcast on ABC and six 15-second spots peppered throughout the Academy Awards on Feb. 9.
M&M’s approached Disney with the idea months ago as a way to tie its ads to the broadcast. The approach is somewhat similar to the way brands play off of live events on Twitter and other social media platforms, such as the ways brands react to touchdowns or commercials during the Super Bowl. This effort brings that kind of messaging to linear TV, with ads that will follow certain moments during the Oscars.
“I’ll call it the equivalent of our Super Bowl,” said Allison Miazga-Bedrick, M&M’s senior brand director. (M&M’s ran a Super Bowl commercial last year, but sat out this year’s game.)
The animated ads are meant to feel contextually relevant to what’s happening in the broadcast even though they are being completed before the show airs, said Miazga-Bedrick.
M&M’s does not have the scoop on who will win the competitive awards, but does know about expected moments, such as which musical performances will occur, and can play off of those plans in its spots.
“We’re developing creative with M&M’s and with the Academy to feel as if M&M’s is reacting in real time to what’s happening in the awards,” said Jerry Daniello, senior VP of entertainment brand solutions at Disney Advertising Sales.
The push by the Mars Wrigley brand is the latest example of an advertiser looking for a way to stand out during an event with a large audience that is expected to watch live. Last year, nearly 30 million Americans tuned into the Academy Awards.
“It’s been a trend over the last few years where we have been encouraging clients to develop custom creative for the Oscars like they do for the Super Bowl,” said Daniello.
The campaign highlights the limited-edition “messages” packaging M&M’s began rolling out to stores in late January featuring comments meant to be from the spokescandies. Ahead of the 92nd Academy Awards, M&M’s sold 92 kits online meant to be used while watching the show. The boxes, which featured an applause noise when opened, included 12 packs of M&M’s and a red carpet-like table runner to use during an Oscars party.
All six of the spokescandies, which go by names based on their colors, such as Mrs. Green, will be featured in the animated spots, Miazga-Bedrick said. M&M’s will also play off of the ideas in the commercials on Twitter during the broadcast and plans to replay some of the spots on YouTube during its digital push after the Oscars. But Sunday night is the only time the ads are set to run on TV.
According to Disney, M&M’s has the most ad units of any food marketer during the Oscars and is the only food brand with customized experiences.
M&M’s last ran a commercial during the Oscars in 2015. This year’s effort is its first custom Oscars integration since 2007.