‘Flipping’ gender norms: female M&M’s run the world in shoes they can walk in

Ella Mitchell, Editor-in-Chief

Breaking news: the tectonic plates of our dreadful pop-culture obsessed planet are shifting. This event is so abominable in nature that Fox News had to deprioritize coverage of an attempted coup in Brazil to comment. Hold onto your seatbelts and, please, avoid a poorly-timed sip of water to circumvent all possibilities of a spit take, because this news might be startling: M&M’s are girlbossing a little bit closer to the sun with their new girl-lead marketing campaign. 

Absolutely freaking wild, I know. 

The female M&M spokescandies — Green, Brown and, of course, Purple — are featured on and inside new packs for Mars’ “Flipping the Status Quo” campaign. And get this, it is just the female characters. Not a male M&M in sight. This, right here, is the pinnacle of gender inequality in our country. Not, say, lack of reproductive rights. How dare men not be represented with cat-eye eyeliner candies. 

Oh … maybe it’s because Mars would have to charge a full dollar if the package featured all men. But 88 cents will suffice for the female-only packaging that will be available in milk chocolate, peanut butter and peanut varieties until March.

This vaguely-gravity-defying packaging is designed to honor women changing the world by “flipping” antiquated gender stereotypes. On the packaging … of mid-tasting chocolates. Because that doesn’t come across as performative at all. Pop-off, I guess. 

Longtime fans of the chocolates, or hapless saps like myself who are far too invested in the drama of the knock-off Reeses Pieces, are familiar with the Green and Brown M&M characters and new-girl-on-the-block Purple, who was introduced in September of 2022. Purple was added to the candy crew to “represent acceptance and inclusivity,” according to Mars, and comes with the inability to be eaten and a Wisconsinite-level-cheesy music video to boot. 

Admittedly, when I had the absolute misfortune of hearing this news, I was skeptical. If Eleven isn’t somehow involved in the Upside Down, I don’t want it. And flipping the status quo? What’s next, a bunch of melodramatic M&M’s dancing on tables and singing about how their passion is making crème brûlée

Besides, you’re telling me that the very same brand who haphazardly attempted inclusivity through shoe design is taking a stab at feminism, too? 

But alas, as my queen Karen from “Mean Girls” would sing it: “This is modern feminism talking, I expect to run the world in shoes I cannot walk in.” 

Except, you can walk in these shoes, because apparently Green can’t be feminist and sexy, Purple self-identifies as quirky and our resident girlboss Brown wants to conform to the blister-free kitty heel life of every generic, rom-com business woman character ever. 

At least this time, M&M’s is putting their money where their mouth is. In fact, Mars will be donating $1 from every bag sold to women-empowerment organizations including She Is the Music and We Are Moving the Needle (up to $500,000), and the Female Founder Collective and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media also will receive a total of $300,000. That’s gotta count for something. 

Additionally, up until Jan. 15, M&M’s is asking snackers to nominate an inspiring woman in their life to be featured on the M&M platforms and receive $10,000 to help fund their mission. (Instead of nom-nom-ing some M&M’s, go ‘nom’ an inspiring woman in your life!) Ten winners will be announced on International Women’s Day on March 8. 

Furthermore, as part of the initiative, Mars has teamed up with six female creators to help build additional content inspired by Brown, Green and Purple. They’ve also brought their own programs to fruition to spotlight women, such as the #HereToBeHeard global listening study, which amplifies intersectional voices, and the Full Potential global platform, which advances gender equality in the Mars workforce.

M&M’s, truly, I had some doubts about this marketing stunt, I really did. A baseless package redesign could have been out-of-touch, or worse, straight-up performative. But a steady stream of money and initiatives to back it up certainly don’t hurt, despite what critics are currently throwing temper tantrums about. No, this feminist-forward is not emboldening China (thanks, Unnamed Fox Anchor) and, no, some lipstick-clad candies are not indoctrinating our children.

Take a deep breath, try not to go full keyboard warrior in your Twitter replies, and let’s take this “flippant” move for what it is. It’s a marketing ploy; Mars wants to create buzz, get people to talk about the products and, most of all, buy M&M’s. Mission accomplished. Someone needs to give Mars’ marketing team a raise.