Candy maker Mars said Monday it is replacing its MMs “spokescandies” with actress Maya Rudolph after facing right-wing criticism over its mascot makeover.
Rudolph will star in the candy brand’s Super Bowl LVII commercial, Chief Marketing Officer Gabrielle Wesley told CNBC. It will be the actor’s first appearance as the brand’s spokesperson and “Chief of Fun.”
“The original colorful cast of MM’S spokescandies are, at present, pursuing other personal passions,” said Wesley.
She noted that in the coming weeks, the company will announce “what the MM’S spokescandies are up to over the next few weeks before, during and after Super Bowl LVII,” via their website and social media channels.
The spokescandies are a team of cartoon MMs mascots that have represented the brand in commercials and other marketing materials since 1960. Early last year, the candy brand updated the cartoons and its marketing, rebranding each mascot with a new backstory, clothing and personality to be more inclusive.
The green MM, for example, had previously drawn criticism for being marketed as too sexy, so the company switched out her knee-high heeled boots for sneakers and put more emphasis on her feminist values. “Orange” became a mascot riddled with anxiety, and the company added a new purple MM, which was designed to represent inclusivity.
The rebrand caught the eye of conservatives, including Fox News host Tucker Carlson, at the time of the update and again in recent weeks, with some claiming the makeovers were another example of a liberal agenda gone too far.
“In the last year, we’ve made some changes to our beloved spokescandies. We weren’t sure if anyone would even notice. And we definitely didn’t think it would break the internet,” MMs said in a statement Monday on Twitter. “Now we get it — even a candy’s shoes can be polarizing … Therefore, we have decided to take an indefinite pause on the spokescandies.”
The company announced Rudolph would take the place of the iconic mascots just ahead of the key Super Bowl advertising event.
“I am a lifelong lover of the candy, and I feel like it’s such an honor to be asked to be part of such a legendary brand’s campaign,” Rudolph said in an interview Monday with NBC’s TODAY.
Representatives for Rudolph did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mars in December announced it would make its return to the Super Bowl advertising slate with a 30-second spot during the game Feb. 12. The company teased the commercial with an image of its seven MM characters, silhouetted on a football field.
“The latest campaign extends our purposeful work over the last year but is rooted in a new creative territory, and we can’t wait for our fans to see what’s about to unfold,” Wesley said in a statement at the time.
Correction: A photo caption in this story has been updated to correct the spelling of Maya Rudolph’s name.