FILE - Maya Rudolph arrives at the premiere of “Loot” on Wednesday, June 15, 2022, at the DGA Theatre in Los Angeles. Mars says it’s pausing using its trademark M&M’s spokescandies and has enlisted Rudolph to star in its marketing efforts. The news comes three weeks before M&Ms is set to return to the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023, with an ad after sitting it out last year. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

FILE - Maya Rudolph arrives at the premiere of “Loot” on Wednesday, June 15, 2022, at the DGA Theatre in Los Angeles. Mars says it’s pausing using its trademark M&M’s spokescandies and has enlisted Rudolph to star in its marketing efforts. The news comes three weeks before M&Ms is set to return to the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023, with an ad after sitting it out last year. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

Maya Rudolph new face of M&Ms after veteran spokescandies paused after backlash

Pivot comes on heels of surprising culture war early last year

Move over, Yellow, Red and Green: Maya Rudolph is replacing the iconic M&M’s “spokescandies” after the candy-coated chocolates brand inadvertently sparked backlash last year by changing its green mascot’s high-heeled boots to “polarizing” sneakers.

The pivot comes ahead of the candy’s Feb. 12 Super Bowl LVII commercial and capitalizes on the surprising culture war from early last year. That’s when the story made its way to Fox News, where opinion host Tucker Carlson harangued M&M’s parent company Mars Inc. for its “wokeness” after it updated Green’s “sexy” footwear and rebranded its other colorful characters to be more inclusive and diverse.

The Mars Wrigley candy, established in 1941, on Monday embraced the controversy anew and turned the old viral debate into a strategically timed marketing opportunity. Recognizing that its overhaul managed to “break the internet,” the company said it had “decided to take an indefinite pause from the spokescandies.” Instead it chose “a spokesperson America can agree on” — the “beloved” Rudolph — to take their place.

Images of the colorful mascots, who debuted in the 1960s and got the CGI treatment in the 1990s, still appear on the statement, leading many to believe that their “pause” might not last very long and Monday’s announcement that could just be part of a bigger campaign.

And fans of the spokescandies were not happy.

“This has to be a PR stunt. Please tell me it is,” an Instagram user wrote in the announcement’s comment section.

“Y’all are gonna let Fox News ranting about sexy candy control your mascots?” added another.

“The spokes candies are literally your brand,” another user wrote.

“Worst marketing decision ever,” said another.

Meanwhile, Rudolph will be acting as the brand’s “Chief of Fun” and “will use her comedic talents and captivating personality to help M&M’s build on its mission to create a world where everyone feels they belong,” the brand said in a statement.

The Emmy-winning “Saturday Night Live” alum, who will appear in the M&M’s Super Bowl ad, said she’s “thrilled” to be working with the company.

“I am a lifelong lover of the candy and I feel like it’s such an honor to be asked to be part of such a legendary brand’s campaign,” the “Loot” and “Bridesmaids” star told today.com. “It’s a very fun pairing, if I do say so myself. I think little Maya would be thrilled to get to work with M&M’s.”

“I was already the person that likes to watch the Super Bowl for ads, so I feel like, ‘Wow, now I get to be a part of that moment!’” she told People.

Actually, Rudolph is no stranger to the high-profile Super Bowl commercial blitz. In 2021, she starred in Klarna’s big-game debut as four quarter-sized singing cowboys to promote the pay-in-installments service.

The comedian has also served as a spokeswoman in routine ads for the Sling TV streaming service and green-products company Seventh Generation.

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