M&M's peanut bag purple supporting women

Mars, Incorporated

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Sweets-maker Mars has begun selling bags of M&M's that feature only the female characters’ candy colors as a way to commemorate International Women's Day on March 8, and the marketing idea has some consumers up in arms.

The special packages of M&M's feature only the characters Green, Brown, and Purple displayed upside down as a way of "supporting women flipping the status quo." Only green, brown, and purple candies are inside the package too, and it's the first time purple candy has been included since Purple, the character with a quirky personality and lace-up boots, was introduced last year. 

Some critics find this display of vaguely feminist ideas by a multinational corporation for International Women's Day to be an affront to American culture. Though many consumers may shrug it off as yet another publicity stunt, others just can't help but take to social media — or cable TV airwaves — to complain about a culture war.

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Many other social media users find the marketing gimmick pandering to women who face real-world problems that can't be solved by a candy company, and they have a point. Regardless of the try-hard corporate branding for more empowered female "spokescandies," M&M's parent company, Mars plans to donate up to $800,000 from the sale of the special packs to charities that support women, including She Is The Music, a nonprofit seeking to increase the number women in the music business, and the Geena Davis Institute On Gender In Media.

The last time M&M's announced changes to the female characters it resulted in uproar as well. Last year, Green swapped go-go boots for sneakers and Brown got a more sensible pump, leading to a similar backlash, including a Washington Post opinion piece to "give Green her boots back."

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