This week brought a bombshell candy announcement: crispy M&M’s are coming back. And you have yourself to thank for that.
Fans of popular discontinued food items have been working to bring back some of their favorite, yet unavailable foods. Here’s the crazy part: brands are listening. The past few months have brought announcements of the returns of not only crispy M&M’s, but also Surge soda and Burger King’s chicken fries, due in large part to customer requests.
“A couple years ago we started to notice it wasn’t just one or two customers saying, ‘Bring back Crispy M&M’s,’” M&M’S Chocolate Candies senior director Seth Klugherz told ABC News. “We were seeing more and more and, the more and more became hundreds and hundreds and then thousands and thousands.”
The reason for the thousands and thousands? Social media. Fans are using every tool to get their requests heard, from Facebook pages and Tweets to online petitions.
“I think we have 14 different Facebook sites that our fans have created. We get petitions. We literally are getting reached out to on essentially a daily basis,” Klugherz said. “Social media just allows us to amplify the message so quickly in ways that would not have been possible in my career 10 years ago, let alone even five years ago. We do get calls, so I would imagine that those folks who take the time to pick up the phone and call would have still done so, but the social sphere gives us and our consumers a place to rally behind their cause, if you will.”
Fans have certainly united on Facebook, where Surge soda’s page has over 153,000 supporters who even used crowd funding site Indiegogo to raise nearly $4,000 to buy a billboard half a mile from Coca-Cola’s offices in Atlanta that read, “Dear Coke, we couldn't buy SURGE, so we bought this billboard instead,” and directed the company to the movement’s Facebook page.
In a press release announcing Surge’s return, Coca-Cola wrote it was “thanks, in part, to a passionate and persistent community of brand loyalists who have been lobbying The Coca-Cola Company to bring back their favorite drink over the last few years.”
Burger King’s chicken fries instilled a similar sense of zeal leading to its return.
“After we saw that fanaticism grow and grow, who were we to get in the way of chicken fries?” Burger King’s chief marketing officer Eric Hirschhorn told ABC News.
The day Burger King announced chicken fries’ return, Burger King was seeing 379 Tweets per minute about the item’s resurgence.
“The intensity of conversation as we announced the product returning was something I literally have never seen before in my entire career. We’re able to watch real conversations evolve in real time and just to see the pace and volume of conversation is actually an incredible thing,” Hirschhorn said. “We were a trending topic on Twitter all day. We were some of the top performing tweets across Twitter in its entirety [that day[. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, but it’s amazing when there’s a crisis in the Middle East and people are still talking about something like chicken fries.”
Other fan campaigns, while valiant, are smaller in number and probably won’t go anywhere.
French Toast Crunch, McDonald’s fried apple pie and Hi-C Ecto-Cooler all have a few Facebook fan pages, but with much smaller numbers than other products that have successfully been brought back. These fans could take a lesson though: get a real movement started, and you never know when you could be enjoying your favorite foods from the past.