Skittles sticks with social despite early setback

Last year, Skittles got an aftertaste it didn’t expect from a social media experiment. Critics pounced after Skittles launched a stream of social media comments about the brand on its site. The brand found itself hosting many negative — and less-than-tasteful — opinions about its product.

However, Skittles didn’t back down from social when it recently relauched its site and debuted The new site features a range of eccentric, rainbow-colored content, from clowns in astronaut suits to brand-related YouTube videos. Visitors are called to share the quirky content on Facebook and Twitter. Also, encourages users to create and share YouTube videos.

“Skittles has pushed the envelope in the social media space and we will continue to do so – it’s who we are and it’s one of the reasons our fans love us,” said Jennifer Jackson-Luth, senior manager of marketing communications at Wrigley, Skittles’ parent company, via e-mail.

The two sites target different psychographic audiences, says Augie Ray, senior analyst at Forrester. is intended for Web content creators, while seeks to reach consumers who participate in social media sharing.

“I think they may have found a way of appealing to two different types of people in social media,” he said.

Michael Kogon, CEO of Definition 6, an integrated marketing firm, said that Skittles has revamped its customer-engagement strategy, but maintains an authentic feel.

“They have more than 3 million fans on Facebook, so clearly they are driving a larger fan-engagement strategy than just through a Twitter following. The sites make sense for a brand that needs to have a richer conversation capability,” he said. “They haven’t restructured their social media strategy to the point where it feels like it’s not genuine.”

Tim Kilroy, VP of natural search at PM Digital, added that Skittles is trying to reach an older demographic than it has traditionally.

“It’s trying to extend their brand into a place where it hasn’t previously lived,” he said. “It seems to be marketing to people who have grown up with Skittles.”

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