Morning Consult Brands: M&M’s Pauses Use of ‘Spokescandies,’ Names Maya Rudolph New ‘Chief of Fun’


Essential marketing and PR news & intel to start your day.
January 24, 2023
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Taking a Hit

In his latest story, Morning Consult senior sports reporter Mark J. Burns takes a look at how views of the NFL have changed throughout the 2022 season, which began and ended with serious injuries to two different players. Read more about fans’ perceptions of the league’s priorities here: Fans Say Tua Tagovailoa’s Concussions Damaged the NFL More Than Damar Hamlin’s Cardiac Arrest Did.


Today’s Top News

  • Mars Inc.’s M&M’s announced it is taking an “indefinite pause” from using its longstanding “spokescandies,” a year after their redesign was criticized by some right-wing pundits. The candy characters are set to be replaced by actress Maya Rudolph, who has been named the brand’s “Chief of Fun” and will make her first appearance in its upcoming Super Bowl ad. (Marketing Dive)
  • The U.S. Department of Justice reportedly plans to file a lawsuit against Alphabet Inc.’s Google over its command of the digital advertising market by the end of the week. The case will mark the Justice Department’s second major monopoly case against the company, which owns a majority of the technology used to serve, buy and sell ads online. (Bloomberg)
  • Inc. is launching a drug subscription service called RxPass that charges users a $5 monthly fee for access to generic medications shipped to their doorsteps. RxPass, the latest effort by the e-commerce giant to break into health care, will be exclusive to Prime members. (CNBC)
  • Microsoft Corp. confirmed it is making a multibillion-dollar investment in OpenAI, the startup behind ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence chatbot that has gained massive popularity among business and consumer audiences in recent months. The announcement, which comes less than a week after the tech giant eliminated 10,000 jobs, signals Microsoft’s commitment to expanding the use of the emerging technology in its offerings. (The Wall Street Journal)

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What Else You Need to Know


Disney plans to extend Hulu’s ad targeting options to Disney+’s ad tier

Tim Peterson, Digiday

In April, Disney will begin to roll out some of Hulu’s ad targeting capabilities to Disney+, and by July, Hulu’s “full suite of ad products and services” will become available across Disney’s streaming portfolio, said Disney Advertising president Rita Ferro in an interview ahead of the company’s annual Tech & Data Showcase event for advertisers on Jan. 25.


Ad spending forecast to grow 6% in 2023 as digital priorities shift

Sara Karlovitch, Marketing Dive

Advertisers are expected to spend an estimated $509 billion in 2023, up 6% from $481 billion last year, according to findings by the Winterberry Group shared with Marketing Dive.


More brands are investing in Walmart’s advertising platform

Vidhi Choudhary, Modern Retail

Walmart’s nascent yet fast-growing advertising business Walmart Connect made big gains this past holiday season.


Netflix teams up with Bumble so users can bond over popular TV shows

Lauren Forristal, TechCrunch

Bumble is putting the phrase “Netflix and Chill?” to the test with the launch of a weekly in-app Netflix-themed question game called “Netflix Nights In” that asks users questions about a popular Netflix show. Users can play against their match to see who can answer all the questions correctly.


Live Nation exec will face lawmakers about Taylor Swift concert tickets fiasco

Parija Kavilanz, CNN

Lawmakers are set to grill top executives from the event ticketing industry on Tuesday after Ticketmaster’s inability to process orders for Taylor Swift’s upcoming tour left millions of fans unable to buy tickets or without their ticket even after purchase.


NBA, Meta Reach Multiyear Partnership Extension

David Cohen, Adweek

Live games from NBA League Pass will be available via Horizon Worlds.


Fox Business Tests New Programming Ground With ‘Bottom Line’

Brian Steinberg, Variety

In a bright, wide-open studio at Fox News’ Manhattan headquarters, where cable-news programs often stick to tried-and-true formats, Dagen McDowell and Sean Duffy are trying something a little unexpected: an experiment.


The Washington Post is not for sale, owner Jeff Bezos and the newspaper say

Chloe Melas, CNN

The Washington Post is not for sale, spokespeople for the newspaper and its owner Jeff Bezos told CNN on Monday.


Nate Silver and FiveThirtyEight Are on ABC’s Chopping Block

Lachlan Cartwright, The Daily Beast

A decision on the future of the famed politics, economics, and sports analysis website is set to be made by the summer when Silver’s contract is up, multiple people with knowledge of the situation told us.


‘SNL’ Postproduction Workers Authorize Strike as Contract Negotiations Stall

Katie Kilkenny, The Hollywood Reporter

The group, which is attempting to reach its first agreement with management after unionizing in October, is responsible for prerecorded segments on the iconic NBC show.

Social Media and Technology

Apple ramped up lobbying spending in 2022, outpacing tech peers

Lauren Feiner, CNBC

Apple ramped up its lobbying spending last year, increasing its total for the year by 44% compared to 2021, according to public disclosures.


Messenger ramps up testing of default end-to-end encryption

Aisha Malik, TechCrunch

Meta announced today that it has started gradually expanding testing default end-to-end encryption for Messenger. 


Creators report extremely low earnings from TikTok’s ad revenue sharing initiative

Alexandra Sternlicht, Fortune

TikTok Pulse, the company’s creator ad revenue sharing initiative, is paying creators negligible sums compared to competitors YouTube and Facebook.


Shopping app Temu is using TikTok’s strategy to keep its No. 1 spot on App Store

Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

Temu, a shopping app from Chinese e-commerce giant Pinduoduo, is having quite the run as the No. 1 app on the U.S. app stores.


Natural Light is tapping into nostalgia with its new can design

Jordan Valinsky, CNN

Drinkers will soon notice a retro-inspired makeover that mirrors the budget beer brand’s 1979 design, featuring a throwback logo, crest and colors. It’s part of a broader campaign to mature the beer’s identity, which is synonymous with college-aged drinkers.


Kristen Bell’s CBD skin-care brand Happy Dance shutters, as it turns out people just want to get high

Liz Flora, Glossy

“It won’t get you high!” was the tagline of Kristin Bell’s CBD skin-care brand, Happy Dance, which launched less than two and a half years ago. The brand is now shutting down as its parent company shifts its focus to products that promise the exact opposite. 


TikTok is driving an offline lift in sales for some brands

Vidhi Choudhary, Modern Retail

While TikTok ads and posts are typically known for driving online traffic for brands either to their Amazon storefronts or DTC sites, some brands are observing an increase in their offline sales through these videos.


Luxury giants bank on Chinese return as Western shoppers sober up

Mimosa Spencer, Reuters

The focus of the luxury industry is shifting back to China, with hopes that its high-end spenders will once again splurge on designer goods during Lunar New Year festivities as Beijing relaxes COVID curbs after three long years.


Levi Strauss hires Nordstrom vet as chief digital officer

Tatiana Walk-Morris, Retail Dive 

As it pursues a direct-to-consumer strategy, Levi Strauss & Co. has hired Jason Gowans to be its new senior vice president and chief digital officer for LS&Co., according to a Thursday press release.


Kim Kardashian Tapped The White Lotus’s Italian Scammers for Valentine’s Day Skims Campaign

Emily Tannenbaum, Glamour

“I watched The White Lotus and had to have my girls!”


Bud Light Moves Away From Humor in its First Ad From Anomaly

Jon Springer, Ad Age

‘Handful’ spot showcases new brand voice ahead of Super Bowl.

Work and Management

TikTok Warns Remote Employees They Risk Losing Jobs

Kaya Yurieff, The Information 

TikTok is cracking down on remote work, telling some U.S. workers they could lose their jobs unless they show they have already moved near their assigned offices.


Could virtual interns and brand safety bots be the future of AI for media agencies?

Antoinette Siu, Digiday

Artificial intelligence may not be taking over media agencies’ jobs yet, but some of this technology is already sitting, and working, next to you.


For Tech Companies, Years of Easy Money Yield to Hard Times

David Streitfeld, The New York Times

Rock-bottom rates were the secret engine fueling $1 billion start-ups and virtual attempts to conquer the physical world. But in 2023, reality bites.


Google’s Pichai Tells Staff Cuts Avoided ‘Much Worse’ Issues

Julia Love and Morwenna Coniam, Bloomberg

In an internal meeting, Sundar Pichai, who is CEO of Google parent Alphabet Inc., said he had consulted with the company’s founders and board in making the decision for 6% cuts, according to remarks reviewed by Bloomberg.


Media layoffs loom large over 2023

Kerry Flynn and Sara Fischer, Axios

A slew of media companies and tech firms have begun to announce sweeping job cuts as the economy continues to face uncertainty.

Morning Consult