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The Plain Truth

Counting the human costs of commercial change

by Beth Sutton-Brown

I have witnessed the spectacle several times in the media as of recent. Newspapers, newscasts, and radio blips have all presented the farewell saga about to plague the world as we know it. M & M's will be renamed.

You see, the original name of "Plain M & Ms" has stood the test of time, but the company feels it does not adequately promote the delicious candy-coated wonders. According to Michael Tolkowsky, the Vice President for Licensing and Marketing for M & M's and Mars, the "heritage" of calling the candies "Plain" has "never really fit into the eating experience of M & M's." Hmmm...Mmmm... The company has launched a $10 million campaign to promote the slogan, "Same great chocolate. Much better name." So what is the new name? "Milk Chocolate M & M's." Sorry, but I just don't see it. People will still purchase the candies regardless, and to be honest, I never really noticed or cared that they were called plain.

Sales rose 12 percent last year, so I suppose the entire point is not really about publicity and sales, but about M & M and Mars' love affair with the orbs of sugar. It leaves me to wonder what sorts of humanitarian efforts M & M and Mars could support with the $10 million. Small change for a lot of companies, I know, but imagine the possibilities.

I suppose the kicker of it all is that the company conducted massive research of its consumers and discovered that M & M's customers wouldn't be confused by the name change. Huh? Yes, that's right, a study was conducted to determine this. Let's all recollect the fateful night standing in the check-out of Kroger lamenting whether or not we wanted to indulge in peanut or plain M & M's. Now aren't you thankful for the study? How many wandering souls would be on the streets without the implementation of this study crying in to the night? "Why?! Why?!" They would shout to anyone who dared to listen. "I just wanted a bag of plain M & M's and I got the Milk Chocolate M & M's instead. Oh the humanity of it all."

Law enforcement around the globe will be forced to band together to control the havoc on the streets. Dogs will be trained to sniff out plain M & M's bags from the new milk chocolate-named variety in case labs spring up concocting illegal versions of the chocolate delicacies. E-bay will be shut down from the influx of demands for the olden plain-bagged delights. Children won't know how hard their parents struggled in their youth to be able to provide the candy. It will be every child's wish for Santa to bring the M & Ms, an original "plain" bag, only to be disappointed year after year.

Countless additional spending and studies will be conducted with only nonsense prevailing. "Don't you get it people?!" The M & M's executives would reel, "Plain doesn't adequately describe an encounter with the M & M's!" The executives would require around-the-clock supervision and bodyguards to ensure their safety in a world ravaged by the new packaging. Think I'm exaggerating? Even though they changed the recipe as well, Coca-Cola went through traumatic relations with consumers when they revealed "New Coke" to the public. Eventually they were forced to bring the former cola version back. People will swear that M & M's recipe has been altered. Violence will ensue. Underground parties will spawn up, secretive societies that create massive bonfires to burn and destroy the new candy-coated teeth rotters. Streets will be silent as evening darkness sets in, fear riveting throughout the souls of every citizen. Fears that others will change their products, their slogans, and the past will be forever become buried underneath the continuous changes.

The older generation will reflect on a time when M& M's were just that—plain. Not the sassy, fancy milk chocolate-named breed those companies produce now. Why, the youth of today has no respect of the generation's culture that occurred before their mindless existences. Ministries will spring up to counsel and support the misguided into salvation. Legislatures will meet behind closed doors to discuss the refutable circumstances. Every law enacted to promote the bettering of society through M & M's therapeutic counseling will be disobeyed, people running amuck of the statutes meant to only truly protect the values big money corporations promote. No one anywhere can be trusted. Where to turn? What to do? Future generations will hush the children who ask about M & M's. "That's something we don't discuss, dear," they'll remind. But I digress. It may go over without much notice. Let's band together and be hopeful havoc won't break out.

Then all we'll have to worry about is the possibility of asbestos in crayons.

August 3, 2000 * Vol. 10, No. 31
© 2000 Metro Pulse