- The Washington Times - Monday, September 20, 2004

Years of melting in your mouth and not in your hands have earned the M&M;’s talking candies a sweet spot in advertising history.

The candy-coated chocolates and their tag line, created by Ted Bates & Co., have been named the United States’ top advertising icon and slogan, based on an online vote.

The competition, which began in August and ended Friday, received nearly 700,000 votes online through Yahoo and USA Today. The M&M;’s characters, created in 1954, received 22 percent of the vote.

“We really see it as a testament to that connection we’ve made with the consumer over the years,” said Jeffrey Moran, an M&M;’s spokesman. “They are a part of Americana.”

Voters chose from a group of 52 icon and slogan finalists. The AFLAC Duck, Planters’ Mr. Peanut, the Pillsbury Doughboy and Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger rounded out the top five, respectively — besting other icon staples like Ronald McDonald and the Energizer Bunny.

The rest of the winning slogans are: Almond Joy and Mounds candy’s “Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don’t;” “Where’s the beef?” from Wendy’s; “A mind is a terrible thing to waste,” from the United Negro College Fund; and Verizon Wireless’ “Can you hear me now?”

The vote came in conjunction with Advertising Week in New York City, a weeklong schedule of events in Manhattan honoring the advertising industry.

“The icons and slogans represent the most enduring symbols of creativity in advertising,” said Ken Kaess, chairman of Advertising Week in New York City.

Many of the contenders were on the campaign circuit for most of the competition — making public appearances and using their Web sites to encourage people to vote.

AFLAC had a banner on its Web site asking visitors to vote for the Duck, the youngest winning icon. The campaigning worked, as the quacking bird finished in second place — racking up 14 percent of the votes.

When the Duck debuted in 2000, the insurance company received more hits on its Web site that weekend than it did the entire previous year, said spokeswoman Laura Kane.

“We are very pleased that America has connected so well with the AFLAC Duck campaign in such a short period of time,” said Dan Amos, chief executive officer and chairman of AFLAC.

Mr. Peanut, 88, is the oldest icon.

“When Mr. Peanut found out, he was jumping out of his shell with excitement,” said Larry Baumann, Mr. Peanut’s press secretary. “He wants to thank everyone who was nuts enough to vote for him.”

The winning icons and slogans, along with the advertisers and the ad agencies, will be etched in bronze plaques and permanently set in the sidewalk on Madison Avenue, between 49th and 50th streets in New York.

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