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Meet the Portland team that helped M&M's come to life

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M&M’s were first produced by Mars Incorporated in 1941, and over the years they've evolved into quite the personalities.

Thanks to Kirk Kelley and his creative team at House Special, the different M&M’s started to stand out two decades ago, starting with Red and Yellow.

The duo has been in some of the most memorable Super Bowl and television commercials and humored theater audiences during movie previews.

Before their recent superstardom, though, they had a much different look.

“It goes back to 1995,” Kelley said. “We took the M&M’s characters that were, really before that they were two-dimensional drawings, for the most part, and we were charged with making them 3D characters... that had more personality that people could start relating to.”

Kelley has worked with M&M's for 20 years and said it has taken a while to get them to look like the ones we know and love today.

“We kept brainstorming with each other about how they would interact and what how they're personalities would be, how they would move,” he said. “We looked back to comedy teams in creating Red and Yellow. It's all those comedy icons.”

Kelley's team was inspired by classic comedy teams like Laurel and Hardy.

“One is bigger and not as smart on the outside. The other is more outrageous and explosive,” he explained. “Yellow is bigger and shuffles around. Red is nimble.”

Red and Yellow continued to grow in popularity, and over the years Kelley helped introduce more colors, forming their personalities and even animating the way they moved.

“Blue is cool, sophisticated,” he said. “Brown, She was never part of the gang because she's always in the corporate office. She's really serious minded and the brains behind the operations.”

Ultimately, the House Special team’s work created the iconic characters the world knows today.

“I always like it that they aren't perfect and have qualities people can relate to. They're not like perfect spokespeople,” Kelley said. “It's rewarding because you say it to anyone pretty much around the world and they're like, ‘I know them, my favorite character is’ or people say ‘I love that Super Bowl spot,’ and it's a blast and I love what I do.”

His team recently designed a video in celebration of the M&M's 75th anniversary, but House Special works on many other projects.

They've done CG and stop motion animation for commercials like a Honey Nut Cheerios spot featuring Usher and ads for Supercell's Boom Beach and Planters.

To see some of their spots, visit

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