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Ever been telling a joke when you suddenly realize you've used the same gag on the same people twice, maybe three times before? If you're lucky, they chuckle politely and let you weasel out of it. If not, they turn their backs on you and start talking about something else. Either way, it's pretty embarrasing. Something tells me M&M/Mars was hoping to get lucky with their latest M&M tv spot,"Eating Your Own Kind," featuring 'Seinfeld' co-star Patrick Warburton (Puddy) and a generous helping of sick humor. Unfortunately for them, it's one of those jokes that was only funny the first time.

Sometime around the middle of last year, M&M/Mars Inc. decided to boost lagging sales of its M&M candy line by introducing a new 3D-computer-generated character ("Crispy") to it's existing tv-advertising cast ("Green," "Peanut" and "Plain"). The result of this move was a string of four commercials centered around an "Oh, no! They're gonna eat Crispy!" theme, each of which was progressively less funny than the one before. Let's examine the series in order:

1) "Hunted." Crispy in a bar, lamenting the fact that humans are trying to hunt him down and eat him. Worth a chuckle, the first time.

2) "No Running." Crispy in a swimming pool, scantily-clad actress Halle Berry chasing him around trying to eat him. No chuckle (just a grin), but Ms. Berry looks tasty in a swimsuit.

3) "It's a Rule." Crispy in an apartment, actor Patrick Warburton working up an appetite to eat him. YAWN. Patrick (as we'll discuss in a minute) is about as appealing as a sea-cucumber these days.

4) "Palm Reading." Crispy in a hotel lobby, scantily-clad actress Halle Berry chasing him around trying to eat him. Not sure how it ends, as I only watched long enough to get an eyeful of Ms. Berry in a crushed- velvet shift.

With the fifth (and most recent) ad in the series, "Eating Your Own Kind," we are once again treated to the acting prowess of Patrick Warburton, but this time with an added twist to the eating theme; cannibalism! Crispy, Peanut and Green are all sitting around inside a corner newsstand eating...prepare yourself... their own type of M&Ms! Alfred E. Packer's got nuthin' on these guys. Fat, pasty, bleary-eyed Patrick then stumbles in to buy a bag of M&Ms for himself. The comedy mayhem peaks when Patrick stumbles back out in disgust, and the M&M characters switch bags with each other. Okay, the cannibal gag isn't so terrible by itself, but the fact that Warburton looks like he's been gorging himself on something incredibly unhealthy (like human flesh?) for weeks makes the whole commercial a disgusting mess. The overall impression is similar to that of a stoned Elvis hitching up his pants and mumbling to himself onstage during that last '77 concert. Just disturbing.

In the final analysis, M&M's "Oh, no! They're gonna eat Crispy!" idea was funny the first time, but not NEARLY good enough to stretch out over five tv spots. Judge for yourselves, but I'm not inclined to let M&M/Mars weasel out of this one: I'll be changing the channel next time it comes on, and I sure as hell won't be eating any crispy M&Ms any time soon.

(Want to see this ad online? Check out the Ad Critic.)


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