Color, Brand Characters Star In M&M’S World New York

Chocolate, most would agree, is a very good thing. And as the folks at Mars Retail Group would be inclined to point out, it’s even better in color.
Thus the vibrant hues of red, blue, yellow and green — the colors of M&M’S key branded characters — are used to strong dramatic effect in the entertaining new retail environment of  M&M’S World New York, which opened in Times Square this past December.
Columbus, Ohio-based retail design firm Chute Gerdeman, which designed both the New York City store and the Orlando M&M’S World for Mars Retail Group, Henderson, Nev., employed the latest in LED lighting to create dramatic color effects that can be changed for holidays or promotions. The designers also tapped into the distinctive “personalities” of the Red, Blue, Yellow and Green brand characters. Each of the four iconic figures is highlighted somewhere in the store and frequently is linked with a New York City attraction or popular culture reference. Green, for example, portrays the Statue of Liberty, who beckons visitors up the escalator to the second floor of the 25,000-square-foot store. The adventurous Red can be found on an exterior sign, where he emulates King Kong climbing up the Empire State Building. And cool guy, Blue, strikes a pose a la John Travolta’s character in the movie “Saturday Night Fever.”
The design firm team worked with the Mars ad agency BBDO early on in the project to ensure that they had a clear understanding of the M&M characters’ personalities, explains Brian Shafley, president and creative director at Chute Gerdeman.
Home sweet home
Blair Ford, vice president of retail for Mars Retail Group, says he likes to think of the three M&M’S stores (a Las Vegas store has been open since 1997) as environments where the M&M’S characters live. Thus, while the stores are designed to be profit centers and not just “brand museums,” the selling environments were created to be fun and entertaining. “It’s not about an intense selling strategy,” says Ford. “It’s about, ‘Welcome to my home.’”
The New York retail site presented some design challenges thanks to the glass walls, which mean few opportunities for wall merchandising and a large number of structural columns located throughout. “We had to invent a completely different merchandising format,” says Shafley. The designers converted 22 existing columns on the three floors into vehicles for displaying merchandise by devising a flexible fixture system that wraps around the columns and uses a series of slats to allow for displaying merchandise easily.
The merchandise mix is varied and ranges from 25-cent impulse items to collectible products with price tags in the hundreds of dollars. Each store features a large assortment of creatively themed M&M’S dispensers, and they’re among the most popular SKUs, says Ford.
All three stores have interactive elements. In New York City, for example, the store features a “color mood analyzer” to determine which M&M’S color best suits a shopper’s mood. Also, the New York City store incorporates a two-story “wall of chocolate” made up of 72 candy-filled tubes — which allow patrons plenty of latitude in assembling color mixes of their choice.
Sweet Recognition
Two longtime confectionery industry leaders earned the recognition of their peers with awards presented at the National Confectioners Association’s annual State of the Industry Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., earlier this spring.
Herm Rowland (right), chairman of the Jelly Belly Corporation, was presented with the 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award, and Bill Ryan, vice president of confectionery sales and marketing for ADM Cocoa, was named as the 2007 Distinguished Service Award recipient.
Rowland began his career at Jelly Belly at age 13 and began dabbling in candy making by the age of 16. In 1981, Rowland negotiated the name Jelly Belly from the man who created the concept. He also was instrumental in developing the Jelly Belly Visitor’s Center, which now hosts more than 400,000 visitors annually. His creative and innovative marketing have helped to make Jelly Belly the industry leader it is.
Ryan has served in the confectionery business for 24 years and started in the food industry as a teen. His accomplishments include establishing protocol to address the issue of child labor in West Africa and developing the ADM Cocoa and Chocolate Seminar, which has been utilized by more than 500 industry members since its inception in 1993.
Ryan has served on NCA’s Supplier Advisory Committee, Public Relations Committee and Government Affairs Committee.
NPD’s “Snack-Fact” … What snack foods do people eat between lunch and dinner? What are we doing while snacking?
Top Snack Foods Eaten in the Afternoon*
1. Fresh Fruit
2. Gum
3. Chocolate Candy/Candy Bars
4. Potato Chips
5. Breath Mints/Strips
6. Non-Chocolate Candy
7. Nuts
8. Cookies
9. Tortilla Chips
10. Crackers
Source: The NPD Group/SnackTrack®
*Based on three years of data for time period ending December 2006

Top Activities While Eating Snack Foods in the Afternoon*
1. Watching television
2. Eating a meal**
3. Work or homework/break from work
4. Not doing anything in particular
5. Traveling/driving in a car
Source: The NPD Group/SnackTrack®
*Based on three years of data for time period ending December 2006
**Snack Foods consumed at all occasions (meals and snacks)