The Connotations of M&M’s

I chose to analyze this advertisement for fall-themed M&M’s. The table below details a few of my thoughts on this ad:


Elements Colors Characters Shapes Positions Facial Expressions Objects Used Gestalt Principles
Denotation Red, yellow, purple, brown, gold Red M&M mascot on product image Leaves on packaging and in main image, round M&M’s on packaging and in main image Leaves are overlapping and viewed from above Red M&M has arms and eyebrows raised and a smirk on his face, with eyes half closed M&M’s, football jersey, autumn leaves Proximity, similarity
Connotation These warm colors are reminiscent of autumn; specifically, the colors of changing leaves. Immediately, the viewer thinks of fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and other elements that occur during the autumn months The red M&M is easily identified as a part of the M&M brand, letting the viewer know immediately what this ad is about. By using the circular M&M’s to form the shape of autumn leaves, a connection between the candy and fall is formed. The two elements become one, as if it is impossible for one to occur without the other. By positioning the leaves below the viewer, a sense of diving into a leaf pile is conveyed. The overlapping shapes of the leaves pushes this idea further, expressing depth and space within the leaf “pile”. Additionally, the “pile” of chocolate candies brings to mind trick-or-treating and Halloween, a fall event that would require piles of M&M’s. The expression on the red M&M on the packaging can be interpreted in a variety of ways, depending on the audience. He could be seen as leaping out of a leaf pile or as trying to spook the viewer. Each activity further engages the viewer in an autumn activity that persuades them to purchase the candy. The football jersey gives another nod to a fall activity where having a bowl of M&M’s may be necessary – hosting a football-game-watching party. Again, the use of autumn leaves and M&M’s continues to drive the point of the advertisement further. The Gestalt principles of similarity and proximity group the M&M’s into fall leave shapes by color, creating the basis for the message of the advertisement: You should celebrate fall with M&M’s because without them, you won’t have the essence of the season.

6 thoughts on “The Connotations of M&M’s

  1. You did an fantastic job on explaining all the small details as well as analyzing the photo. You couldn’t have done it any better as I am really enjoying this reading! Yes the MM is stating fall is on its way and there’s nothing better than enjoying fall season with MMs! You did great on catching the small detail from the cover of the MM to express its facial as well as the Jersey does represent football season.

  2. You hit all the elements right on point! The only thing I would also point out is that they could have decided to use a different M&M character to represent the company but instead I believe that they strategically decided to use him because he is red which goes along with the theme of fall. In addition, he has more of a cocky attitude which goes along with football players and supporters because many of them are proud of their teams and talk down to other teams. I do find it interesting the colors that they decided to use for the football jersey because it reminds me of a Cleveland Browns jersey so I wonder if someone within that company supports them more than any of the other teams?

  3. I really like your interpretation of this ad. I agree with you, that when I see the red, yellow and orange I immediately think of fall, and I think this ad does a great job of representing that. I also like that you noticed the M&M on the packaging was wearing a jersey. I think this targets a large market, but it still plays into the fall atmosphere that the ad has.

  4. Wow! When you said football jersey i was confused, but then I saw what you meant! It is definitely interesting how little hidden elements can add so much meaning to an image. Everything you put in that chart makes sense to me, and you definitely noticed things I didn’t even see. The gestalt principle is used so well in this advertisement, it really pulls in the viewer as they have to make a tiny bit of brain current to understand what is happening 🙂 Very powerful ad, definitely shows semiotics. Great!

  5. You did an amazing job interpreting this ad! I completely agree with what you said about the colors, fall leaves, and the football jersey. I definitely think it was a smart idea to include both the leaves and the small addition of the football jersey on the label of the pack of m&ms because it can hit two different audiences with the small separate details. Using the leaves and colors, someone can definitely see the connotative meaning that you had mentioned (autumn, leaves changing, halloween). Then by including the football jersey on the cover, the audience that thinks of football and sporting events and watching the game are also hit and pulled into the ad as well. Both these audiences would feel a connection with the ad and therefore be more likely to purchase the m&ms. Therefore the breakdown of the ad that you did shows how impactful and successful this ad is.

  6. Hello Megolexa,

    I enjoyed your illustration this week. I replied to another illustration that gave a detailed breakdown of a car advertisement. I want to say first that I love this image. I love M&Ms and I love fall time so the two just go hand in hand. The idea of using fall colored M&Ms really makes this advertisement stand out. Now that summer is over, these are advertisements that will catch the viewer’s attention. The article this week mentioned if an ad can stand out and say “Hey You!” meaning it grabs your attention, you are already sold. I feel like this advertisement for me does that.

    I am in the fall mood now and the perfect placement of the M&Ms really makes it look like a tasty treat to indulge in. For example, the connotation of colors in your chart was very descriptive. You mentioned how they are warm colors of autumn, specifically the colors of changing leaves. This is exactly what I pictured. The beginning of autumn is in the air and there is nothing better then enjoying the sweet treats of M&Ms. I also thought of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and other autumn activities as you mentioned when I looked at this advertisement. I talked about in my discussion the use of placement and now I could have talked about the color more too because this ad does a good job of displaying both. I feel that this advertisement opened up a door of imagination when I saw because I was thinking of so many things that tie in with autumn.

    This advertisement overall, gave me a warm feeling as we turn from summer to fall. We will most likely see more advertisements of this nature and I believe if the marketers use the changing seasons to their advantage like M&Ms did here, they will be very successful in reaching their targets.

    Good Work!

    Todd Skirving

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