Purple M&M not the right way to promote inclusion and acceptance

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On September 28th, the Mars company announced the creation of the purple M&M. Now don’t be mistaken, there will not be a purple M&M added to the bags of M&Ms. This is only to be creation of a new character. Everyone has seen the silly little commercials starring the M&M characters before seeing a new movie. It is this type of company promotion that the purple M&M will be added to, but not the actual product.

If you go to the company’s website, you can find a tab titled “Experience M&Ms,” under which you can “meet the crew” and read the M&M purpose statement. Each character has an individualized profile page with a few questions and answers revealing their most distinctive qualities.

“With her optimistic outlook, quirky nature, and authentic charm, our newest crew member reminds us to embrace our true selves,” the website reads about Purple.

This was partnered with a music video titled “I’m Just Gonna Be Me.” For each view of the video, M&M’s committed a one dollar donation, up to $500,000, to the Sing for Hope nonprofit organization which creates art for societal progress. The main idea that is being pushed by the company is that Purple is supposed to promote inclusivity and acceptance. While most likely a lot of people aren’t up to date on “M&M news,” this may ring a bell in regards to what could be referred to as the M&M shoe controversy.

I feel as though a multi-million dollar company could put their money elsewhere in order to show that they are willing to make a change.”

In January of this year, the green M&M notoriously switched shoes from high heels boots into a more comfortable pair of sneakers, similar to how the brown M&M switched into a relatively shorter heel. While a change in footwear of an imaginary candy character does not seem like it would be a big deal, it apparently was. Many people had very strong reactions as news platforms shouted opinions from the rooftops. Although, some people had some more “extreme” opinions regarding the matter.

“M&Ms 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,” Tucker Carlson of Fox News ranted.

Carlson came to the conclusion that it was important M&M characters were sexually appealing to the general public and found the shoe change to be a step towards some deliberate agenda. While I can understand that a change in a cartoon’s attire is rather useless in the brand’s previous attempt to “promote inclusivity”, I don’t particularly find the end of the world near, nor am I concerned as to whether or not I am attracted to a fictitious candy character. I feel as though a multi-million dollar company could put their money elsewhere in order to show that they are willing to make a change.

What the majority of people do not know is that a bit before the shoe controversy. Mars, Hershey, and Nestle were involved in a lawsuit about child labor and child slavery to make their chocolate products. In the beginning of 2021, eight children came forward about being forced into slave labor in Ivory Coast cocoa farms. These children claimed that the companies had enslaved thousands of children for their profit. While you let that sink in, consider that, according to a New York Times article, Ivory Coast is responsible for about 45% of cocoa production.

Over the course of the last couple years, there has been a long fight over these allegations. On June 28 of this year, the case was dismissed. While the conspiracy that the M&M shoe change designed to redirect the company’s media portrayal is still floating around, that isn’t all that matters.

I think it’s okay to enjoy or laugh at silly brand cartoons, but no matter what shoes a cartoon character wears or what is represented in the color purple, corporations should still be held accountable for their actions. If they want to show they promote inclusivity and acceptance, they should put their money towards actions that will help.