Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What were the folks at Skittles thinking?


In the past, the people at Mars Inc. have proved themselves to be savvy marketers, as evidenced by their fully integrated black & white campaign for M&M’s. (Carl, 2003) But, this time they appear to have lost their minds, or at least ignored what happened to GM when they ran their consumer-generated ad campaign for the Chevy Tahoe SUV. (Sandoval, 2006)

While there is no doubt that the growth in social networking has created an audience too tempting for advertisers to ignore, this idea may have been ill conceived from the start.

Initially, everyone seemed intrigued by the idea of Skittles turning their site over to consumers, by channeling consumer-generated content from Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and Wikipedia to their home page. (Lukovitz, 2009).

But, it didn’t take long for consumers to turn nasty, so on March 3, Mars announced they were pulling the twitter campaign. (Sullivan, 2009)

And, on March 5 they announced that only the brand’s site on Wikipedia would be used for its homepage. (Sullivan, 2009) But, a visit earlier today led me to a homepage with YouTube content and still gave access to the twitter feed. So, at the moment is unclear what their current strategy is.

Are you surprised that consumers got out of hand so quickly? How should we balance the desire for consumer input with the tendency of people to turn nasty? How can we market brands in social networking settings without going to this extreme?

Carl, S. (2003) M&M’s are now black & white, no color. Retrived March, 16, 2009 from

Sandoval, G. (2006) GM Slow to React to Nasty Ads. Retrived March 16, 2009 from

Lukovitz, K. (2009). Skittles Generates Buzz With Social Media Efforts. online media daily. Retrieved March 3, 2009 from

Sullivan, L. (2009). Skittles Pulls Twitter Campaign. online media daily. Retrived March 4, 2009 from

Sullivan, L. (2009) Skittles Settles On Wikipedia For Brand's Home Page. online media daily. Retrived March 6, 2009 from

1 comment:

  1. COMMENTS (4)
    elliott phear:
    Skittles said they wanted people to 'join in the conversation about skittles'. Who is having conversations about skittles?
    They could have taken a nod from any of the countless brands that have set up brand fan pages and have built 'fan bases' organically. Instead, this felt like a mass marketing launch on media that was never meant to be used for mass marketing.
    That said, what they failed to accomplish in new media, they seemed to make up for with their copious amounts of press and buzz!
    Posted by elliott phear | March 16, 2009 6:14 PM

    Posted on March 16, 2009 18:14
    Bradley A Giddens:
    With all due respect, we have to take a minute to applaud Mars for their effort in the social media sphere with the Skittles brand. When I first found out about their strategy I thought it was brave and quite interesting. I still think so now and expect to see much more of this type of marketing in the future. Unfortunately it was Skittles, and as the previous post stated, "Who's talking about Skittles?" Now, if this was the strategy for say the Prius, Honda's well-received hybrid car, it may have been more successful. I don't see this as something for every brand, however, those brands that are more technologically inclined and have the opportunity to create conversations as did the Prius through after-market owner customizations, we may find a format that lends itself to this type of consumer engagement. Afterall, that's what we as marketers want is an engaged customer, not just a satisfied one. And that, I think, is where Skittles was wanting to go.
    Posted by Bradley A Giddens | March 16, 2009 10:50 PM

    Posted on March 16, 2009 22:50
    Bradley A Giddens:
    Correction: it's Toyota's Prius, not Honda. My apologies.
    Posted by Bradley A Giddens | March 17, 2009 11:45 PM

    Posted on March 17, 2009 23:45
    PJ Lehrer:
    Check out what Marketing Daily says at:
    Posted by PJ Lehrer | March 19, 2009 9:59 AM