Several food manufacturers have been accused of inciting children to gamble. Last week M&M was hit on the fingers, but there are more brands that put gambling elements into their promotion.
In 2011, M&M opened its first flagship in Europe under the name M&M World Store. It is an experience store of 3200 square meters, spread over four floors. According to reports from travel organizations, it is a day out for children.
There is everything for sale such as toys, clothing and household items. Obviously mainly in the form of M&M merchandise. However, the most striking thing for children is the Wall of Chocolate. In this chocolate wall, a child of 22 colors can put together his own M&M mix.
M&M Slot Machine
M&M recently started selling M&M fruit machines. The fruit symbols have been replaced by M&M characters. Children are supposed to pull the handle. With matching characters, candy, M & Ms of course, falls into the “cash box”.
The Australian Samantha Thomas, a well-known scientist on the consequences of gambling behavior in children, posted a tweet from the M&M slot machine. British MPs and others responded with horror.
Influence gambling behavior
The toy M&M fruit machine pays no money at a jackpot. But according to experts, the cabinet normalizes thoughts about gambling. Some even go so far as to claim that the M&M slot machine can trigger a gambling epidemic.
Samantha Thomas formulates it as follows: “Combining the winning features of a slot machine with such a famous candy brand gives children the idea that these are machines with which you win rather than lose.”
M & M’s response
Mars, the owner of the M&M brand, responded immediately. The fruit machines are immediately removed from the M&M World Stores. Not only in London, but probably also from Las Vegas, Orlando and New York. M&M has had a store in those three cities for years, and that accounts for more than 10 million visitors a year.
A Mars spokesperson said the company saw it as a fun attraction and not as a means to promote gambling among young people. But she understands the criticism and draws her conclusions from it.
There are more brands where experts have their doubts. An example of this are Kellogg’s breakfast cereals with the name Krave Choco Roulette. The three chocolate flavors are displayed on the packaging in a fruit machine window.
Doritos is even clearer with their packaging of their cheese chips. The chips are draped on the packaging around a roulette wheel. The images are suggestive. But the association with gambling is much less than with the working fruit machines of M&M.
However, both Kellog’s and PepsiCo, the owner of Doritos, react. Kellogs defends itself with the remark that with ads it only targets adults and no longer broadcasts TV commercials. And PepsiCo thinks it's enough to say that she recently stopped using the Doritos Roulette chips. Probably for reasons other than the criticism of gambling-stimulating market strategy.