I was watching television last night and saw a teaser ad for a Super Bowl spot in which an anthropomorphic M&M is kidnapped. And I swore, at that moment, that I would never, ever find out what happened to that piece of candy, a tiny act of rebellion against the lunacy contained in the idea that anyone might ever care.
We're meant to love Super Bowl ads. And we do, really; we like any movie even when it is loaded with product placements and even when it is 30 seconds long. (I mean, go look at them.) What sets Super Bowl ads apart is basically only that they cost more so companies spend more on them so they're not quite as horrid as regular ads. That and the cultural role they play: even if you don't care about the game, the ads give you something to look forward to and talk about. Everyone wins.
Here is how the Mars candy company describes its exciting offering this year.
It’s been 60 years in the making, but on Sunday, February 2, beloved M&M’S® Brand character Yellow will finally get his moment in the spotlight. Today, Mars Chocolate North America announced that M&M’S® will debut a new 30-second commercial in the first half of Super Bowl XLVIII about M&M’S® Peanut, with Yellow taking the lead role in the Big Game for the first time.
Tell me that's not insane. Like, literally: tell me a way in which that is a rational set of sentences for a human being to construct and publish for other human beings to read. "'It’s about time we remind the world how irresistible M&M’S Peanut really is,' said Seth Klugherz, Senior Director, M&M’S Chocolate Candies." Insane.
The ad that set me off was this:
It is a candy with arms and legs and a personality, the product of hours of computer-rendering, "twerking." This "Super Bowl Teaser" has been viewed more than one million times on YouTube. It is the Mars Company trying to get people excited about the interstitial period of a football game so that they can see the next part of this story, featuring what Mars calls "America’s Favorite Nut."
And that is actually the thought process! You will be watching the Super Bowl, and thinking, Hey, I wonder what happened to M&M’S® Brand character Yellow. Then you'll find out, and then you'll be reminded about how irresistible M&M's Peanut really is, and we will all have had fun.
So I'm not going to find out. I am going to avoid that Super Bowl ad and any spoilers for the ad — because, God help us, we talk about these things — for as long as possible. My strategies:
- Avoid seeing the ad when it airs. We'll watch the game, but we're going to watch it on a two-minute delay. When ads come up, we'll skip ahead past it. Since the ad may run more than once, two minutes should do the trick.
- Filter Twitter discussion. I'm a Twitter junkie, so this will be the most likely source of people telling me about it. I'm going to actually pay for a new Twitter client that lets me filter out certain terms; I figure that "M&M" and "yellow" should work for starters, but I'll adjust as needed. Update: I also took the drastic step above.
- Filter my web browser. There's a Chrome plug-in called Silencer which allows you to mute particular topics of conversation. Installed.
- Threaten friends and family. People I know will be tempted to try and tell me what happens just to irritate me. (I would also do this to them.) I need to develop some sort of punishment that I can exact on anyone who does so that is so frightening it would deter such behavior. Or maybe that threat alone will suffice. So: You are warned, family and friends.
- Stop using the internet or interacting with other human beings. This is more of a "worst case" sort of thing.
Again: I'm not choosing to do this. I have been driven to it, forced by the massive marketing budget of Mars and its advertising compatriots into this position, as surely as those Boston patriots rebelled against George III's suggestion that the East India Company get its moment in the spotlight. I will also, of course, avoid buying any M&Ms while I maintain my distance from the company, not that I buy a lot of candy, because I am an adult, for God's sake.
Full disclosure: At one point in time, I made the commitment to myself that I would never hear that horrible Carlos Santana-Rob Thomas song again for the rest of my life. Through the overwhelming pressures of the society in which I live, I have on repeated occasions violated that pledge, through no fault of my own. This fight is bigger and more important, and I ask your help in achieving it. And I'll point out: You can probably live without knowing what happened to that candy, too.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.