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Illustration: Kyle Hilton


How M&M’s Caramel Used Custom Content Integration to Appeal to Young Consumers

Jan 30, 2018

For 75 years, M&M’S® has been one of the most popular American candies. Its success is due in part to continued marketing innovation. From debuting new flavors to inviting consumers to choose new colors, M&M’S® has consistently found new and creative ways to keep consumers engaged.

The launch of M&M’S® Caramel in spring 2017 was slated to be the largest in the company’s history. The product was the result of years of development, as M&M’S® designed new machinery that would make it possible to create an M&M with a chewy, caramel center.

The Challenge

To create awareness and excitement around the launch, M&M’S® wanted to engage its global consumer base. In particular, it was eager to connect to a new generation of young and diverse consumers in a way that would resonate across platforms. And, since caramel was the fastest-growing segment in food, it needed to differentiate the product and leverage the flavor’s proven popularity.

The Strategy

M&M’S® partnered with Viacom to create a custom content campaign that would appear across linear TV, digital, and social. It was Viacom’s first Epic campaign, a marketing program that features collaboration across divisions to give brand partners a full-service solution for portfolio-wide campaigns. It’s designed to be flexible and fast, and offers custom creative from branded content studio Viacom Velocity, data solutions via Viacom Vantage, and social integration.

In just eight weeks, Viacom and M&M’S® conceived and launched the Epic campaign. The exclusive kick off was during the 2017 MTV Movie & TV Awards on May 7th with four custom spots that integrated the brand and product. The 15-second ads, created through collaboration with the brand marketing team and BBDO, featured stop-motion animation to bring the personality of M&M’S® Caramel to life. Each spot represented a popular film genre and aired strategically to span throughout the show. The spots also appeared in a custom ad unit that ran across all Viacom’s music and entertainment sites, and MTV.com and MTV’s YouTube channel featured a version of the custom ad as pre-roll.

“This is an example of how being proactive and having a great partner leads to a truly effective and innovative collaboration.”

“We activated a range of Viacom’s partner solutions from custom audiences, to custom content creations, to deliver a cohesive launch strategy. Working with our internal teams and external partners, we created a campaign that we knew would resonate with our audiences,” says Dario Spina, CMO of Viacom Velocity. “This is an example of how being proactive and having a great partner leads to a truly effective and innovative collaboration.”

To generate excitement on social, Viacom and M&M’S® partnered with social influencer Liza Koshy. Fans were able to enter a trivia contest on her Instagram account for a chance to win a ticket to the Movie & TV Awards. And during the show, eight-second versions of the custom ads were aired on MTV’s Discover Snapchat Discover and Movie & TV Awards’ Snapchat Live Story.

For fans tuning in on MTV.com and MTV Facebook, M&M’S® Caramel presented the Movie Awards’ post-show live streams with set integration.

“Traditionally, building a brand has been all about looking for ways of joining conversations or being part of entertainment and slipping into current culture,” Michelle Deignan, senior brand manager, M&M’S® Mars Chocolate, North America told AdWeek. “But knowing that there’s a constant development of new technology and new ways to connect to consumers, and knowing that consumers aren’t always on traditional TV, it was really important for us to continue to evolve the brand and to show what’s different and unique for consumers, and particularly our younger consumers.”

Other custom creative and marketing ran across Viacom’s platforms throughout the summer, including custom content integration in the 2017 BET Awards, movie marathons on Viacom networks, and custom creative for MTV Promposal, Nick @ Nite and Comedy Central. The EPIC campaign also used Viacom Vantage, Viacom’s advanced audience platform, to identify M&M’S® target consumers and reach this audience most effectively across Viacom’s networks.

The Results

In the MTV Movie & TV Awards, M&M’S® Caramel had the highest brand awareness, brand opinion, purchase consideration, and sponsorship recall of the Movie & TV Award sponsors. Fans agreed that the collaboration was appropriate, as 98% of viewers said that the Movie and TV Awards was a good or excellent place to spread the word about M&M’S® Caramel.

The on-air creative—enjoyed by 98% of viewers—garnered more than 8.6M impressions among people ages 12 to 34. Its reach, coupled with the creative success, led to significant growth in awareness and intent. In fact, product awareness increased 2X among Movie and TV Award viewers compared to non-viewers, and purchase consideration increased to 83%. The Snapchat campaign reached 4.2M unique Snapchat users while the Live Story ads received 8.3M total Snap views.