Super Bowl

M&M's Eager to Keep Super Bowl Plot Going With Pre-Roll Spots

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Whether or not it rates as one of the night's top ads on Sunday, M&Ms is eager to keep its Super Bowl story going after the game.

Online pre-roll ads slated to begin running Monday continue the arc from M&M's "Human" 30-second spot.

The campaign, from BBDO New York, relies on the likeability of Danny DeVito and some humorous danger. And if the M&M's playbook seems a bit familiar, you might be thinking of the strategy used by sibling brand Snickers last year, when it relied on the star power of Adam Driver and some painful action in the "Old West" that it followed up with a 15-second "Apology" the day after.

But, of course, Snickers isn't in the game this year. If nothing else, M&Ms seems to have gotten its money's worth out of its contract with DeVito. The online pre-roll ads (there are 6-second and 15-second versions) mark the brand's third use of the aging actor. First, there was a chocolate-filled teaser. Then came the Super Bowl spot itself, pre-released Monday.

In the main spot, the Red M&M's "spokescandy" complains to buddy Brown about how people keep trying to eat him, then wishes on a lucky penny to become human.

In the pre-roll ads to follow, DeVito's character, apparently largely unscathed from a (spoiler alert!) truck collision, gets his new wish and morphs back into a red M&M. But his new lease on life as a lentil (Mars lingo for each individual piece of M&M's candy) doesn't last long.

We're not so sure that the DeVito lentil would agree with the "always fun" tagline on the screen. But if there's anything we've learned from years and years of Super Bowl ads, one of the recurring themes is attempting to make pain funny. And there's a behind-the-scenes theme at play here, too: There are brands that will tease ads for as long as they can. Even before the M&M's teaser, a movie-critic-filled preview, the pre-released big game spot and the follow up pre-roll ads starring DeVito, M&Ms announced its return to the Super Bowl with an announcement in early December.

The push makes sense for privately-held Mars, which presumably has the marketing budget to make these big kinds of plays. It's up against the renewed competition in 2018 from the likes of Hershey Co. and Mondelez International Inc., each of which posted declines in North American revenue for the fourth quarter of 2017.

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