M&M to retire 'spokescandies' after outrage over mascots' shoes

The iconic anthropomorphic characters will now be replaced by actor Maya Rudolf, the company announced

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Jan 24, 2023 1:59 PM  | 3 min read
M&Ms

This is the last we will see of the iconic M&M spokescandies after the confectionery giant announced that they will be phasing the mascots out. The recent changes to the spokescandies' shoes triggered widespread outrage in the United States, which prompted the company to shelve the mascots, at least for the time being.

The adorable mascots will now be replaced by former Saturday Night Live star Maya Rudolf.

The classic button-shaped, sugar-coated chocolate candy by Mars, Incorporated had introduced its mascots, known as "spokescandies" back in 1945.

These anthropomorphic characters -- complete with hands, legs and faces -- were modelled after M&M candies. Each colour wore a distinct set of shoes to match their personalities.

In January 2022, the company announced its decision to alter the shoe styles of Green and Brown M&M mascots, who were widely believed to be females. The change was to reflect inclusive progressive values and promote a more gender-neutral image of the mascots.

The Green M&M was traditionally shown wearing go-go boots and the Brown one wore high-heeled pumps. After the rebranding exercise, the Green one was given a pair of trainers and the Brown one had her heels shortened.

The move triggered widespread outrage, particularly from the American right wing. They decried what they believed was the woke-washing of the much-loved mascots. Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson led the attack against the brand saying: "M&M’s will not be satisfied until every last cartoon character is deeply unappealing and totally androgynous. Until the moment you wouldn’t want to have a drink with any one of them. That’s the goal.”

A year later, ahead of Super Bowl, the company announced its decision to phase out the M&M mascots entirely as the debate around the spokescandies refused to die down. The iconic mascots, who have always been associated with the candy brand since 1945, will now be replaced by Maya Rudolf, said the company.

Despite the decision to walk to the middle path by antagonising neither the right nor the left, M&M's social media pages are rife with angry comments left by both sides of the political spectrum. "what a way to destroy a history of making people smile. Your CEO should step down for choosing to virtue signal rather than put the investors first," said one. 

"You mean, your sales dipped after going woke and you don’t want to admit it outright?" wrote another. 

"Let’s take the candy out of this. Your advertising was based on supporting women. You are now backing down from it because a conservative talk show host didn’t like supporting women," said a user criticising the company for cowering to right-wing demands.


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Ranbir Kapoor becomes Myntra’s brand ambassador

Ranbir will be seen in Myntra’s latest brand campaign, along with Kiara Advani

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 6, 2023 1:26 PM   |   3 min read

myntra

Myntra has announced the appointment of actor Ranbir Kapoor as its brand ambassador. Ranbir will be seen focusing on men’s fashion wear, in Myntra’s upcoming brand campaign slated to go live shortly. The brand’s existing ambassador and fashion icon, Kiara Advani, will continue to drive awareness about the women’s western wear category.

“Ranbir will be seen as part of Myntra’s upcoming brand campaign 'Be Extraordinary Everyday’, which is aimed towards positioning Myntra as the destination that enables people to elevate their everyday fashion and style with access to the best of branded fashion. Myntra’s association with Ranbir will help the brand tap into his popularity and national appeal. His personal style and admirable persona, is set to build and deepen consumers’ salience with Myntra, driving conversations across metro and non-metro audiences as well as help elevate the fashion choices of his expansive fan base,” the company said.

Ranbir Kapoor joins an ensemble of superstars which includes Kiara Advani, Tamannaah Bhatia, and Vijay Deverakonda in representing Myntra, further strengthening the platform's connect with the nation's cinema landscape, positioning Myntra as the go-to destination for the latest on-trend looks and fashion.
Kiara Advani has been the brand’s ambassador since 2020, enabling Myntra to penetrate in the diverse demographics of the nation owing to her immense fanbase. The remarkable string of successes for films like Shershaah, Bhool Bhulaiyya 2, Jugjugg Jeeyo and the latest release, Govinda Naam Mera, have further elevated her popularity, in addition to establishing her amongst the most influential fashion icons of the nation and an inspiration for fashion-conscious people.

As part of this campaign, Myntra will also engage with top influencers from across India, to create exciting and relevant content to connect with consumers including in non-metros.
Speaking on the announcement of the brand ambassadors and the initiation of the brand campaign, Sunder Balasubramanian, CMO, Myntra, said, “Ranbir embodies the spirit of Myntra as a creative force shaping the world of fashion today. He is a true original, who has been a part of some of our previous brand films, and now we are thrilled to continue our collaboration officially by welcoming him as the new face of Myntra. He is not only a style icon but also an inspiration to the youth and we are looking forward to reaching out to his fan base across the country.”
Speaking of the association, Ranbir Kapoor said, “Fashion continues to play a huge influence in my life. For those who know me the best, I am more of a classic and everyday ensemble kind of a man. I am absolutely honoured and delighted to be associating with Myntra. Our collaboration will enable the best of everyday fashion for my fans through the best of branded fashion made easily accessible by Myntra. Super excited for this one.”

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e-Commerce growth gravitating towards India’s tier cities

Guest Column: Shankar Shinde, Chief Commerce Officer, VMLY&R India, analyses the factors that will be key in the expansion of the country’s e-Commerce business

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 6, 2023 8:49 AM   |   6 min read

VMLY&R India

The pandemic changed the way we Indians shop, with research showing more than half i.e. 53% of the consumers from non-metros now prefer online shopping, and 80% of Indian consumers prefer to shop from their smartphones. This shift means that the first time a consumer discovers or interacts with a brand it is almost certainly online.

India’s direct-to-consumer e-commerce market is expected to reach $100 billion-plus by 2025, a 32-times growth over 2023.

The focus will shift from Tier 1 cities to Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities with online shopping going deeper – it still has a lot of juice left. eCommerce growth is primarily going to be led by shoppers from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. This will be with continued online migration of key categories, including fashion and grocery.

Vernacular Voice searches, Social Commerce, Direct-to-Consumer brands, Conversational Commerce and Digital payments will play a pivotal role in e-Commerce growth.

Voice will be stronger in vernacular

To facilitate growth beyond metros, many e-commerce companies have enabled voice-based shopping, providing language options to make ‘Bharat’ shop online with as much ease as their metro and urban counterparts.

Video content, voice search, and localization will take precedence in 2023 and beyond. Localization through the use of vernacular and visual content will be the key to winning over customers in Bharat, beyond the metro. The adoption of languages will be beyond English and Hindi to Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Bangla, and Marathi.

1. Social Commerce

Social media users in India are expected to grow to around 448 million in 2023. A direct beneficiary of this rapid rise of social media users of course is social commerce. Social commerce or buy-sell via social media has been steadily gaining popularity in India.

• Building a brand around communities: Social commerce is not like any other sales where buy-sell is more transactional. Social commerce is developed around building a community – a dedicated base of followers or ‘fans’ who admire the brand, comment and talk about it, and even share and promote them. Because social commerce mostly uses influence marketing, a strong base of the community is built around a brand within a span of time.

• Authentic feedback: Because the products are present on social media and there is a community connect, the feedback system is strong and usually authentic. Social commerce also leads to a much more engaged shopping.

• Growing along: Artificial Intelligence-driven sales are here to stay. As social commerce grows, industries that are directly linked with it including logistics, warehousing, and other sales channels of storage and delivery too will continue to grow.

2. D2C

The Indian D2C industry continues to grow, buoyed by rising awareness and consumers’ willingness to experiment. Projected to grow by 21 per cent, the D2C industry size in 2023 is all set to cross the $66 billion mark.

• Bharat - A focus is on fashion brands: According to reports that looked at sales over the 2022 Diwali season in India, Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities are the main driving forces behind these purchases, accounting for 64 per cent of all consumers who made transactions. During this phase, almost 125 million customers placed orders across platforms, helped by Tier 2 cities, and growth was driven by fashion in these markets. One of every five orders placed here was for ethnic wear like a Kurti or saree. Meesho’s recent sales saw nearly 60 percent of sales coming from Tier IV cities. Demand from ‘Bharat’ will only rise and D2C brands will play an important role in fulfilling this demand

• Marketplaces - Attract International Brands: The beauty and personal care sector saw a declining trend in 2022, with the market contracting by almost 11 percent year over year as a result of lower expenditure after the pandemic. However, online stores like Nykaa attracted at least 30 foreign brands to India, which currently accounts for 15-20 percent of its total income. At least 60 percent of sales were recorded from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities in the beauty and personal care market

• In 2023, the BPC segment is expected to grow to $27 billion, D2C brands can plan ahead and benefit from this surge

• Bargaining Tools – Increase Engagement and Conversion: Shoppers love to bargain. Earlier, it was possible only when selling offline, but with the latest tools, you can let your shoppers bargain online too! Kari by Kriti uses this selling technique efficiently. Brands are also adopting gamification tools to increase engagement and sales. Tools like a discount spin wheel can be used to surprise users with an instant discount and further improve sales

3. Conversational Commerce

Conversational commerce is about using messaging apps and platforms to connect with customers and promote products and services. It’s big on convenience because it’s about reaching shoppers on their favored communication platforms, this will be via:

• Live chat: Live Chat Service allows brands to reach and help customers while they browse the retailer’s website. By using live chat apps, customer support agents will assist multiple customers simultaneously, offering highly personalized advice and support

• Messaging apps: Instant messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Messenger are a kind of live chat, except they don’t have to take place on your website. By allowing users to share rich content formats like videos and gifs, they make for more natural, engaging conversations

• Chatbots: A piece of software used to answer consumers’ questions via text-based messages, typically through on-site chat portals. Capable of handling multiple consumers at once, 24/7

• Voice assistants: Tools like Alexa and Google Assistant will be leveraged to provide consumers with immediate answers or direct them to your website

Whatever platform you use, the benefits to customers are clear. After all, wouldn’t you rather wait a few minutes for a reply on WhatsApp than spend 10 minutes listening to hold music?

4. Digital Wallets

• Rise in adoption of QR codes: QR code payment users are expected to grow beyond 2.2 billion in the next two-three years. Cash was leading in-store payment up until 2021, at around 38 percent of value, digital wallets were at 25 percent, and credit/debit cards were at 18 percent. This equation will change with the mass adoption of QR codes at the point of sales

• Buy now pay later: The Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) financing option has been a win-win at both ends. Buyers can purchase expensive items without breaking the bank while brands can count on higher conversions by asking for lower initial payments. As per the industry report, the growth of BNPL payments is expected at a CAGR of 28.9% during 2021-28.

(The views expressed here are solely those of the authors and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com)

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It's fabulous to see Reebok go global: Joe Foster

Foster, the Co-Founder of Reebok, looks back at the footwear brand's long and eventful journey

By Anjana Naskar | Feb 6, 2023 8:30 AM   |   4 min read

reebok

Joseph William Foster (Joe Foster), the Co-Founder of Reebok, recounted the remarkable journey of the legacy shoe brand in his book – Shoemaker. During his first visit to India, Foster takes us through Reebok’s journey, the challenges he faced while setting up the shoe brand, and the inspiration that led him to write a book on it.

What inspired you to write a book about your journey?

I stepped back from Reebok a long time ago. We didn’t have computers or smartphones in those days. Everywhere I went, we used to read and write letters, as we didn’t have emails back then. So when I stepped back from Reebok, I decided that I’ll visit the beautiful island of Ten Reef, as I wanted to lay back and enjoy life. But then of course, all this new technology came in, we got computers, smartphones, Google and Wikipedia, and they were telling me how Reebok was started, but that was little truth to it. There was also a photograph of Joe Foster, Founder of Reebok, floating on the internet, which was not me. So all that misinformation prompted me to write my story. We had to tell our story otherwise, there would be a lot of stories of Reebok’s inception.

You faced a lot of hardships in the initial stages of Reebok before it became a global brand. What was your mindset, and how did you keep yourself optimistic when things were not so good?

When you have a business, you want it to do well, so you see what the opportunities are. Could we ever become a number one brand? Well, you don't believe it at the time because you're still taking those first steps. But I think the beautiful thing about Reebok and about the sports footwear business is that it is very visible, and you mix with people, athletes, and personalities. Hence, it's an exciting business to be in. So, the excitement led us to take those next steps and we got lucky. Of course, we got lucky. You work hard, but you need a bit of luck as well.

In your struggling days, you and your brother had to live in your shoe factory, we’ve also read that the machines were placed on the edge of the stairs as the floors were not strong enough to hold the weight of the machine…

Well, when you are young, what can go wrong? You're just young and could do anything, we were totally unflappable. That was it, we knew we could it. I sometimes look back and ask myself that question.

Tell us about Reebok’s journey in India. How important was India in Reebok’s global journey?

I think Reebok has been quite a large brand in India for some time. Regrettably, this is my first time here; I should have been here earlier, but we’ve made it at last. It is fabulous to actually see the brand go global. I would've been in India much earlier, but sometimes politically things don't work that way, you have to have partnerships in order to set up. The brand came to India when, I think, I was still running the business. We got the brand global because having brought it to the American market, it really gives you the opportunity to go to other places. So, that was the springboard, to have the brand go global and India was part of that.

Also, it feels incredible to come and talk to people who remember that breakthrough. We remember when Reebok first came in and how big it was, and we think it's still very big in India and will get even bigger. Earlier today, we met with the new licensee for India, and we are going to see the team, so, this is going to get exciting. I am excited to visit Bangalore to see them. I think it's good that the brand is now owned by Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail; this is providing the brand with the opportunity for Reebok to come back and grow.

We see a rise in entrepreneurship and a lot of start-ups are coming up in India, but the journey is never easy. What's your message to those aspirational entrepreneurs and those who are not yet into entrepreneurship but are thinking of taking that leap of faith?

To anyone who wants to become an entrepreneur, I would say just keep your optimism alive, and keep trying. Don't worry about failure. Failure is just that challenge you may need to keep yourself going. We did it, we went from running to aerobics. We saw that wide space that is different, and if you keep working hard enough, and you keep looking around, you keep that optimism, you will find your space. But you have to keep looking for it. 

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Former Spencer's Retail CEO & MD Devendra Chawla joins GreenCell Mobility as CEO

Chawla has over 26 years of experience, holding various leadership positions

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 5, 2023 5:56 PM   |   1 min read

Devendra Chawla

Devendra Chawla, former Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Spencer’s Retail has joined Eversource Capital-promoted shared electric mobility player GreenCell Mobility as its new CEO. He will report to the company's board.

Chawla had joined the RP Sanjiv Goenka Group in 2019 for a three-year term; he recently stepped down from his role. Prior to joining Spencer’s Retail, he was the Chief Operating Officer of Walmart India.

Eversource Capital Vice Chairman - Everstone Group and CEO Dhanpal Jhaveri said Chawla's experience of successfully leading many customer-centric businesses will help GreenCell grow into India's leading green surface transport company.

Chawla has over 26 years of experience, holding various leadership positions, including CEO of Future Consumer Ltd (FCL) and Group President - Food, FMCG, Future Group. He had also served as the CEO - Food and Business Head for private brands (Future Group). He also had stints with Coca-Cola and Asian Paints.

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Amazon eCom biz in India will turn profitable: CEO Andy Jassy

The company has posted 8.5% revenue growth for last quarter of 2022, beating expectations

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 4, 2023 11:49 AM   |   1 min read

Amazon

Amazon's eCommerce investments in India will in time become large and profitable for the company, CEO Andy Jassy said during the company's earnings call, as per media reports.

Amazon has posted 8.5% revenue growth for last quarter of 2022, beating expectations.  

Jassy further said that the company was looking at ways to further cut and streamline costs.

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Ranveer Singh to be the face of Nutella in India

The association was announced with a video in which the actor ‘proclaims his love for the brand’

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 4, 2023 8:33 AM   |   2 min read

Ranveer

Nutella has signed actor Ranveer Singh as its brand endorser for the Indian market.

Singh will promote the Nutella brand across digital and offline marketing channels as well as be an active part of their various campaigns.

Nutella India made the announcement in collaboration with the pan-India star Ranveer Singh’s social pages through an entertaining video, where the actor is seen engaging in a rapid-fire round on ‘what comes to my mind when….’ and proclaims his love for the brand.

In addition, to celebrate the association and the announcement, Nutella in India is also doing an online limited-edition Nutella jar featuring Ranveer Singh on the label as a giveaway to fans of Nutella and the star. Interestingly, the jar is packaged in a box that when scanned under a curated Instagram AR lens, triggers the actor in an augmented reality avatar on top of the box and is seen delivering a special message on this collaboration.

Speaking on the collaboration, Zoher Kapuswala, Marketing Head, Nutella brands, Ferrero India Pvt Ltd. said, “We are delighted to have Ranveer Singh onboard as our brand endorser for the Indian market. His personality exemplifies energy which is in absolute sync with the brand’s ethos. This, combined with his famous love for Nutella makes this announcement even more exciting for us. Leveraging the actor’s strong connect with our consumers, we have a lot of exciting engagements lined up with Nutella.”

Ranveer Singh commented, “I am excited to announce my association with Nutella. Nutella has always held a special place in my heart. I’ve been a fan ever since I was a child and my love for it has only grown over the years. I am stoked to be part of the Nutella journey in India and help bring alive their vision of making tasty breakfast and desserts.”

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Pathaan: How Epigamia and Emaar Properties are enjoying the spotlight

The two brands have been featured in the film, which has already raked in Rs 700 crore at the box office

By Tanzila Shaikh | Feb 3, 2023 7:42 PM   |   4 min read

Pathaan

I love sugar-free yogurt, says Shah Rukh Khan as he and Deepika Padukone plan a heist in their recently released much-awaited blockbluster film Pathaan. This one line by Shah Rukh has, arguably, created more buzz for dairy brand Epigamia than any marketing strategy would ever have. Same is the case with Emaar Properties. The actor has a big fan following in Dubai and so an association with the film for a scene in the country was an opportunity not to be missed for the real estate company.While Shah Rukh was shown relishing Epigamia for nearly 40 seconds, Emaar Properties has been featured during a fight scene in the spy thriller flick.

Brand integration has always been an interesting channel for brands to make a mark in the audience minds who watch their favourite stars in the theatres with undivided attention.

In Pathaan’s case, feels Lloyd Mathias, Business Strategist and Angel Investor, the association will create an impactful recall value for the two brands in the minds of consumers. "A very positive rub-off happens to the brand when it has associated itself with a movie that has stars like Shah Rukh, Deepika, Salman and John. It will be a lasting product in the consumer's mind. Such associations bring a lot of value for the brands as consumers have an active mind while watching movies in theatres."

Sharing how such associations help brands, Nisha Sampath, Brand Consultant and Managing Partner, Bright Angles Consulting, explained, "Today people are noticing product placement and people talk about it. People are aware and that also helps brands to get into conversation into a larger cultural context. There is some degree of awareness that is getting generated at a much more value for money preposition than taking the celebrity themselves, signing up a contract. So it’s a very cost-effective way to leverage upon."

She added, “The integration can be done in a way that it can get the brand into pop culture. One great example is ‘Munni badnaam hui’ song that used the name of Jhandu Balm.

So as Pathaan goes on to have a dream run at the box office with a collection of Rs 700 crore so far and with people standing in queues to catch the spy thriller, we are sure the two brands are enjoying the spotlight and their share of fame.

Talking about advertisers’ interest in the movie, Rajender Singh Jyala, Chief Programming Officer - INOX Leisure Ltd, said, “The release of Pathaan is not only drawing audiences to the big screen, but also a significant number of advertisers are looking to tap upon the hype around the movie. We are witnessing a renewed rigour among the advertisers, which is only getting better with the release of this film. The entire country is looking forward to this much anticipated release, which is an absolutely encouraging sign, not only for the cinemas, but also for the entire film industry. The way the Bollywood craze has come back to life, augurs well for us, and we are sure that the content line-up in the near future would sustain this hysteria."

Meanwhile, talking about how the film is being loved by all, Gautam Dutta, CEO, PVR Ltd., said, “While we had a phenomenal opening of Pathaan with advances of close to 5 lakh admissions for the first long weekend. We expect the film to surpass this figure in the first day of the release itself. The movie has a national appeal, including south India where it is being dubbed in Tamil and Telugu. Post the pandemic, this is the first original Hindi movie that has generated such a good response. Dubbed Hindi versions of regional movies have been doing well though.”

“While regional movies performed exceptionally well post-pandemic, the underperformance of Hindi films due to multiple factors did impact the industry-level collections.  The trend is likely to change with a robust pipeline of Hindi Movies in 2023. Keeping in mind the buzz index and the star cast of the mega-blockbuster movie, brands have shown appreciable interest to advertise. Tent pole movies like this will certainly give an upswing to cinema advertising in the next fiscal to reach pre-pandemic levels,” he added.

Devang Sampat, CEO of Cinépolis India, echoed the sentiment. “Pathaan is being received extremely well by audiences. We have seen record advance bookings and the first reviews are quite positive. We have had a number of big Bollywood hits this year, starting with The Kashmir Files and then the likes of Brahamastra, Bhool Bhulaiya 2, Drishyam 2 among others. Having said that, this movie is expected to create new benchmarks for the industry.”

 

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