Brooks & Dunn Go Sweet on M&Ms

Posted by Bob Doerschuk on 02/10/2010

© 2010 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.

Ever wonder what color M&M matches your personality? There’s one way to find out: Visit the company’s Web site,, click on “Become an M” and follow the steps. Or do what Kyle Busch, Enrique Iglesias, Magic Johnson, KISS and others have done: Become a “shell-ebrity.”
Alas, fame is a prerequisite for that route toward self-awareness. In particular, one’s features need to be recognizable when caricatured on an individual M&M and displayed in print ads. Any number of Country artists would meet these standards easily, but two of the most easily identifiable, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn, a.k.a. Arista Nashville recording artist Brooks & Dunn, were the first to make the cut.
The shell-ebrity campaign grows from a playfully mystical concept called the Inner M. “M&Ms are colorful chocolate fun,” explained Ryan Bowling, Spokesman for Mars Snack Foods U.S. “‘Fun’ is the key word. Everybody has a fun side to them. So why not look at that fun side as their Inner M?”
After running with this idea through a series of television commercials in 2007, Mars moved it forward by recruiting well-known personalities to be represented as M&Ms for ads in Entertainment Weekly, People and other general-interest magazines. The promotion is ongoing today, but by early 2009 Mars decided that something had been missing.
We hadn’t done anything with any musical acts,” Bowling said. “And when we thought of the relevant genres and personalities, Country Music came to mind. Now, we’d had express interest from Brooks & Dunn that they were very passionate about M&Ms, so we called them up and proposed them to be part of the campaign, which they found very exciting. It turned out to be a great match.”
Brooks & Dunn didn’t have to put themselves out too much to get involved. They just sent in their signatures and some hi-res portrait shots and filled out the same questionnaire that anybody could access at The staff artists at Mars then got to work.
The result was a print ad in which the duo — the first duo featured in the campaign — confessed their M&M habits to the world and proudly revealed their Inner M's.
“It comes down to the artist, the backdrop and what the celebrity would like to be,” Bowling said, describing the blue hue of Brooks’ character and Dunn’s green coating. “We worked with their clothing, their facial features, their hair, the hats, their guitars and even the gold on their boots.”
From the Mars perspective, the pair’s participation in the Inner M effort was a resounding hit. “We want to do more with the Country Music industry and its artists,” he said. “Brooks & Dunn are household names and we’re very mindful that everyone in the U.S. knows who they are.”
But what do their Inner Ms say about them? “Well,” Bowling replied, “we consider blue as a cool cat — and green is more flirtatious.”
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