I remember the red dye issue. Did that come before or after the "When you eat your Smarties, do you eat the red ones last?" campaign, I wonder. (More of a question for Canadian/British Hubbers, since American Smarties are nothing like M&Ms.)
Yes. A young kid with an idea for a movie about a green alien approached Mars and asked if he could use their MnM's in this "crazy" movie. Mars turned him down so he went to The Hershey company and asked if they had something similar to MnM's (colorful candies). Well, Hershey had released Reeces pieces but they were not selling and Hershey was about to go bankrupt. Speilburg convinced the CEO of Hershey to invest his last Million into the film AND to use Reeces pieces as product placement (something that was a new concept back in the day). The day after ET was in the theaters Reeces Pieces sales tippled and didn't slow down. The company was saved, a new product was "introduced", an iconic film was made, The director of Jaws found a new fan base, and well... someone at MnM's got fired!!