If you ever wanted to be trapped inside an experience where it felt like you were eating mouthfuls of M&M’S, but only with your eyes, then look no further than the candy brand’s latest marketing material that promoted their 75th birthday.

M&M’S debuted a four-minute film with contemporary artist KAWS and fashion and art publication Visionaire that combined the colorful chocolate hues of the candy with the intricacies of the artist to create a virtual reality experience filled with swirling colors, mystifying perceptions and transforming shapes.

Tanya Berman, brand director for M&M’S, joined [a]listdaily to offer more details on their immersive marketing activation and how they want to veer into artistic storytelling.

James Kaliardos, Cecilia Dean, KAWS
James Kaliardos, Cecilia Dean, KAWS

What is M&M’S trying to accomplish with VR and being a patron of the arts?

There are a lot of consistencies between the colorful chocolate M&M’S and the colorful wildness of KAWS’ mind. We wanted to connect with a new audience to help show the fun of the M&M’S brand in an artistic light. Working with KAWS and Visionaire to bring this to life was a natural fit.

How was the in-person experience received at the New York Public Library?

Last month we screened the virtual reality film at the New York Public Library to give more than a thousand consumers a chance to put on a VR headset and step into KAWS’ virtual studio. This was the first time many of the attendees had watched a virtual reality film—they were amazed by the 360-degree video angles and excited by the immersive experience.

Are you testing any other new emerging technologies and platforms?

We’re always looking for the next fun idea and are currently exploring creative ways to use technology for the launch of M&M’S Caramel innovation later this year.

Are there any emerging trends that you’re looking at to explore and innovate the brand?

We’re looking to explore a presence in the entertainment space with a strong focus on movies and music, as M&M’S are the perfect candy for these types of occasions. We want to remind consumers how M&M’S are all about fun—and what’s more fun than concerts and movie? 

What are the insights and data that influence your marketing strategy?

The M&M’S brand strives to connect and remain relevant with millennials. To celebrate the brand’s 75th anniversary over the last year, we were able to bring to life the fun that our iconic chocolate brand stands for. Looking ahead, we’re going to be bringing fans more experiences to participate with M&M’S at concerts and movies.


How would you assess your 75th anniversary marketing that started in March 2016? What kind of messaging worked well? Which was your favorite?

Celebrating M&M’S 75th anniversary was a successful experience. We took our fans on a year-long celebration to the next level with the ‘Celebrate with M’ campaign. It featured star-studded events, exciting new products and iconic collaborations that cemented the brand’s place in pop culture history. It was great to get fans involved in the celebration. My favorite initiative was our ‘Flavor Vote’ campaign where, for the first time ever, we asked fans to vote on the new M&M’S Peanut flavor. Coffee Nut was the winner.

What else is in store for the brand? How do you think it can further evolve? 

As we move forward in 2017, we’re really excited to launch new M&M’S Caramel Chocolate Candies. They will feature a smooth caramel center covered in delicious M&M’S Brand Milk Chocolate and coated in a colorful candy shell—offering the ultimate combination of flavors in every bite-sized piece. Launch plans are still a secret, but we’re looking forward to an exciting year.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan