M&Ms Lucky Penny Case Study


“Lucky Penny” is an ad in M&Ms’ long-running campaign starring animated M&Ms, guest-starring Danny DeVito.

It aired during the Superbowl, February 2018 in the USA and it's terrific.


“Lucky Penny” is a 5 star ad. Star Ratings predict long-term potential for brand growth – this ad has very strong, and close to exceptional, potential to drive profitable growth for M&Ms, given investment.


“Lucky Penny” is a 3-spike ad. Spike Ratings predict the short-term impact of an ad, so we’d predict “Lucky Penny” to have a good immediate impact on sales.


Our FaceTracing measure maps the emotional journey of viewers of “Lucky Penny”. You can see immediate happiness (the light green bar) which builds across the ad, though there’s also a rise in fear (yellow) and sadness (blue) when Danny is hit by a truck. Overall, it’s a highly entertaining ad.



Our Fluency Trace measure shows how quickly viewers recognise the brand being advertised. In this case, the use of the animated M&Ms Fluent Device creates near-instant recognition as well as that surge in positive emotion.


M&Ms owner Mars released 15 ads in 2018, and 5-Star “Lucky Penny” was one of the best. Confectionery is a strong advertising category with a high proportion of effective ads, but Mars managed to achieve more 3- and 4-Star ads than the norm.


The animated candies debuted in 1995 and have helped propel the brand to become the best-selling candy in the US: it grew 10% last year in a weak market for chocolate. This ad was the brand’s first Super Bowl commercial for three years.