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M&M’s Stumble Upon Santa –– No One is Left Standing

The myth of Santa Claus is one told to children across the world, who drink up the story until reaching an age when they no longer believe he exists. The 1996 M&Ms campaign ‘Christmas Faint’ plays on this idea in a creative and amusing fashion.

The red M&M character is shocked to discover that Santa Claus exists, while Santa is equally stunned at the existence of red and green M&Ms. The short ad concludes with each character fainting in surprise.

The ad engages the audience on two key levels:

  1. First, it plays into the nostalgia of leaving treats out for Santa as a child, an experience common to many in the West.

  2. Secondly, the ad introduces comedy as it suggests that the existence of Santa and the red and green M&Ms is equally unbelievable, with a slapstick element to the characters’ fainting.

The campaign has not undergone any particular innovation since its introduction.

Instead, other holiday advertisements have concentrated on different themes, such as in Australia where the red and yellow sweets audition for a part in the Christmas ad, or in the U.S. where the focus is on customizable sweets being handed out at a party.

Despite the lack of innovation, however, the memorability of the campaign has ensured its survival, and it is often rated as a favorite holiday ad.

Similarly to Hershey’s Holiday Bells, this campaign relies on its short length and readily accessible humor to ensure repeatability.

Tugging on Nostalgia

When I think of holiday campaigns, M&M comes to mind. Maybe that’s because I like to snack, but I think this brand has done a fantastic job of aligning their product with the holiday season.

In addition to that, they’ve created a campaign that pulls on feelings of nostalgia. Nostalgia is a powerful feeling, especially during the holidays.

– Stephen Slater, Digital Advertising Manager, TopRank Marketing

Holiday Marketing Takeaway

Nostalgia and humor are two of the most effective methods of engaging an audience in advertising — particularly when combined.

Kunle Campbell avatar

Kunle is a trusted advisor to ambitious, agile ecommerce brands. His core strengths lies in growing revenue by developing and executing scalable customer acquisition and search marketing strategies for online retailers.  He blogs, runs webinars and teach courses about ecommerce growth on He also hosts an ecommerce podcast dedicated to growing and scaling online retail businesses.