Working Nostalgia in PR - and Happy Valentine's Day!

I don't write about product launches much anymore - well, never anymore - but this was just too good to pass up, especially since today is Valentine's Day. M&M's had come out with Green M&M's for Valentine's Day.

I didn't see any PR on the launch, and had to search for the press release (look, they did an SMR - and it didn't seem to do anything for them!) - but I did come across a POP set-up at Walgreen's, where I clicked the photo in this piece.

Despite the seemingly lack of PR on this (and, I watch enough TV, read one print and at least 2 online papers a day, that I am sure I would have caught something), the product did bring out old memories from when I was in the 5th grade.

And, being sick this week, I dreamt of the school (being sick brings out old memories and dreams for me).

Green M&M's Mean Love

In the fifth grade, my best friend (Ezra Bookstein) and I decided to go along with the urban legend of Green M&Ms, and start a horny collection of candy. Did we believe in the aphrodisiac properties of the M&Ms? Not sure, but come on, we were stupid kids. So, we had a lucite box, and we started filling it with green M&Ms, and then expanded it to other green candy, such as gummi bears and Now & Laters.

This went on for a few months, and the girls took notice of it, so decided to start their own corollary, the hot collection. Same idea, but since they were hot, it was all in red. I am pretty sure that Selma Beitner (aka Selma Blair) came up with the idea.

So, pretty much two groups of students at a school with a lot of time on their hands, disposable income for candy, and sweet tooths. I also learned about Greek history that year (thanks Mrs. Levy!) and how to write well (thanks Mrs. Levy!) and about orchids (thanks Mrs. Levy!) and about my namesake (thanks Mrs. Berris). Yes, I went to a small school.

Seeing the green M&Ms, though, brought back these memories - and it's a smart move to tap into nostalgia for products. It's why Transformers worked well as a movie, why there's talk about other 70's and 80's properties being made as movies ... or being re-released for my generation's own children. And, yes, I bought a few packs.

The three things I wanted to say about this post: first, the SMR doesn't work, or this would have had more coverage. A better written release, smart outreach, better PR would have done more. Second, yes, I went to school with Selma Blair, but haven't spoken to her in about 20 years. Third, hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day!



  1. Transformers would have worked anyway. My wife thought is was pretty good, and she didn't know about the cartoon and action figures until after watching the film.

    I'm okay with the nostalgia, just as long as there isn't a Thundercats movie.

  2. Just think Selma Beitner is saying to herself, "I knew Jeremy Pepper when he was Jeremy Pepper". Selma Beitner? Who gnu??

  3. I'm a bit of a M&M Peanuts addict. Nothing was less enticing than the special Shrek M&Ms that, instead of being multiple colours, were only two.

    That being said, I can't resist old-fashioned candy that was exotic in my youth. Rock candy. The occasion U.S. brand (most of which weren't available in Canada).

    But even though we didn't have access to Dr. Pepper, even then the brand look-alikes were alive and well. Mr. Pibb was available. I'd never tasted Dr. Pepper, but I became a Mr. Pibb addict.

    The moral of this story is that I can leave rambling comments on blogs...

  4. Speaking of school, we're back. You may remember the SMU class blog for the Communications majors. We're at it again. So I hope you'll drop in to see what the students are doing this year:

    You always have great advice.
    Best regards,
    Prof. Flournoy

  5. Jeremy,

    What kind of research did you do to determine it got no coverage? Looks to me like it got some great blog hits as well as traditional media ...

  6. You have a most interesting blog.

    Stay on groovin' safari,

  7. Honestly, I think anything can yield wonderful results when done well. Transformers was really good. I have seen the series when I was still pretty young but wasn't a real fan. But the characters, the effects and the way everything played out in the movie resulted in the hit. Even if Transformers evoked such strong feelings, the movie still could have ended up in a flop if not done great.

  8. Nostalgia marketing is one perspective of the "green m&m" strategy. I propose that the resurgence of campy ideas and lame movie remakes reflects 1)a fear of creating something brand new; and 2)a sure-bet to attract the big baby boomer bucks -- after all, baby boomers still possess the biggest numbers and fattest wallets in the land....

  9. @ike - I'm sure Transformers woulda done just as well, but I am so up for the Thundercats movie. Mmmm, Thundera. Ok, that's weird, but I did love the cartoon as a kid, but don't think it had a large enough audience for a movie.

    @mark forman - I'm sure I left an impression, but not that big of one. And, it's been 20+ years.

    @eric eggertson - M&M Peanuts rock, and they Shrek-sized ones were great. And, it's not rambling, it's nostalgia.

    @Prof. Flournoy - I'll make sure to go and pick on the new kids.

    @David - I looked at Google Blog and News search and did not find any blogs that would not have been on a blog outreach list. If you can do the same with a traditional release, why SMR?

    @Tor Hershman - thanks!

    @Julie - yes, the movie was good summer fluff, but the fanboy/nostalgia crew did help it out. If it had been bad, it would not have been as big, though.

    @john gillett - I think you're even more cynical than me, but yes, original ideas are a thing of the past.

  10. Maybe nobody thought green M&Ms were interesting enough to write about? If I saw that story teased on the 10pm news, I wouldn't stick around for it, and if I saw a headline for it in the newspaper or a Web site, I don't think I'd read it. Sometimes you can't sell a stinker.

  11. @mark - you're in PR and you used to do TV: you know this is the exact type of story that the media usually eats up. It's that 30-second end of the nightly local news, or the human interest Valentine's Day piece.

    It had legs, it just didn't run.

  12. that is another marketing tactic... medai always sees to it that everything is new. that everything is noticeable and visuallystimulating. its marketing, what do we expect? of course marketers will exhaust you with the product they want to sell..

    try this: