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Tuesday Cannon Fodder: gags and advertising

Christmas-themed Event In Shanghai Photo credit should read CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Yesterday, M&M’s “announced” that their well-known spokescandies would be taking an “indefinite pause” because of the unhinged passionate, partisan response from the political right (particularly Tucker Carlson) to changing the appearance and character traits of the mascots. The two female-coded M&M’s had their gender toned down with a change of footwear and by dropping the “Ms.” from in front of their names. All the characters were given new personalities and a signature emotion / affect associate with them.

If you skipped over the embedded tweet, M&M’s said that actress Maya Rudolph will be the spokesperson for the candy. The New York Times covered it as real news, as did other large outlets. Alexandra Petri, whose Washington Post satire columns I find hilariously funny, wrote a harrowing account of the imagined final hours of the spokescandies.

I’m pretty sure it’s a marketing ploy from M&M’s Mars. Others have opined the same thing. The spokescandies will be coming back in a Super Bowl ad or something, and they’re just using the ridiculous culture war outrage as a tool to build buzz and engagement with the candy. But plenty of people are taking the post seriously, and it spawned another round of talking head banter. Sidenote: I don’t see how people aren’t exhausted by all the intentionally anger-stoking discourse, especially when it’s about the most banal stuff imaginable.

What’s the “worst” advertising gimmick / joke / gag / troll-job you’ve ever fallen for?