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M&M's - Say Thank You with M

M&M's, the iconic chocolate candy brand under the Mars conglomerate, has a rich history dating back to its role as a ration for American soldiers during World War II. Leveraging its military heritage, M&M's launched the "Say Thank You with M" campaign, a dual-purpose initiative to express gratitude to American troops and boost brand visibility during the typically slow summer shopping season. This campaign also commemorated the brand's 75th anniversary.


In the United States, Valentine's Day, Easter, Halloween, and Christmas are the four major holiday seasons that drive candy sales. However, summer presents a challenge for Mars as it experiences a dip in sales due to two primary reasons: Walmart focuses on selling summer-themed products instead of gift items during this season, and consumers prefer Hershey's S'mores products, the largest competitor to Mars, for their summer activities.

The challenge was to keep Mars products top-of-mind for Walmart shoppers throughout the summer.


  • Increase sales of M&M's and other Mars candy brands at Walmart by 10%, equivalent to a $2.4 million increase.

  • Raise Mars' market share at Walmart by 1%.

Enhance and solidify customer loyalty and brand affection. Establish Mars as a top-of-mind choice for summer treats.


According to brand surveys, 76% of Americans have high trust in their nation's military. Furthermore, 67% of Americans shopped at Walmart in the past month.

A striking 95% of NASCAR fans (68% of whom shopped at Walmart in the past month) value patriotism and are proud of NASCAR's support for the U.S. military and their families.

From various surveys, the brand concluded that Walmart shoppers take pride in the U.S. military and desire convenient ways to show their appreciation. Consumers also tend to buy products associated with a good social cause.


Create a simple yet impactful omnichannel experience that resonates with Walmart shoppers' patriotism throughout their shopping journey. The brand adopted a strategy targeting two primary customer segments:

  • Focus on the core customer segment (those who purchased chocolate products at Walmart within the last 3 months) while extending efforts to a broader audience of patriotic Americans living near Walmart stores.

  • Leverage the partnership between Mars and NASCAR to engage with patriotic sports fans.

With these two large target groups, the brand executed consistent and pervasive communication across all platforms and media channels. Regardless of the channel, the brand conveyed a straightforward message: "1 for You = 1 for Troops" – Every bag of candy you buy contributes a bag to the troops.

Creative Idea

Transform summer into the "Fifth Season of Giving" to boost sales at Walmart and tap into the patriotism of shoppers, increasing their loyalty to Mars candy brands.


The campaign was implemented widely through various media channels, including media banners, in-store TV, radio, print, and social media, during the Awareness phase. During the Conversion phase, consumers were encouraged to purchase and contribute while expressing their gratitude to U.S. troops through a microsite and NASCAR collaboration events.


Over 400 retailtainment events were organized by M&M's, with some held at major NASCAR race tracks to directly connect with racing fans. At these events, attendees could write thank-you letters or create small gift packages using M&M's products to show their appreciation to the troops. A specially decorated car with Walmart's logo in red, white, and blue made appearances at these events.

Point of Sale Marketing (POSM)

M&M's used various POSM tactics in Walmart stores to attract shoppers, including M&M's-themed vehicles and mascots outside the stores. Campaign images, videos, and messaging were also displayed on checkout TVs.

Content Video

To maximize campaign reach, especially among NASCAR fans, the brand enlisted NASCAR driver Kyle Busch to convey the campaign's meaningful message. Kyle Busch's video was shown on TVs at train stations, checkout TVs at Walmart stores, and on Walmart Promo Radio.

Social Media

With 74% of consumers using social media to make shopping decisions, the brand chose social media channels to generate curiosity and interest within the community. They started with blog posts about the campaign, followed by spreading the message through advertising videos and Facebook posts. All content across channels remained consistent with the hashtag #CelebrateWithM, redirecting engagement to Walmart's website for purchases, contributions, Kyle Busch's videos, and letters of gratitude to U.S. troops.


To maximize broad outreach, the brand created print materials, including FSI inserts.


The microsite served as a hub for Mars' social media content, featuring campaign content with the hashtag #CelebrateWithM.


Within just under two months of campaign execution, M&M's surpassed all initial business objectives:

  • Walmart sales increased by $6 million (compared to the set KPI of $2.4 million), equivalent to a 25% - 30% sales growth (compared to the set KPI of 10%) without additional activation programs.

  • Mars' market share in the candy aisle at Walmart increased by 1.75 points (compared to the set KPI of 1 point).

Regarding consumer behavior:

  • The brand received over 13,000 letters of gratitude from consumers both in-store and online (surpassing the 10,000 KPI).

  • More than 1.8 million pounds of chocolate were sent to troops and veterans (surpassing the 1 million KPI).

  • The campaign achieved 104 million impressions (likes, shares, comments) for the entire campaign (compared to the 44 million KPI) and 34,500 social media interactions (compared to the 2,500 KPI).

  • The campaign helped increase new customer acquisition by 33%, thanks to impressive interaction and impression figures.


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