Skittles unveils retooled Web site linked to social media

As social media marketing remains in its nascent phase, many brands have been trying to figure out the best way to engage consumers in this ever-popular medium.

Skittles, the fruity-flavored bite size candy produced by Mars Snackfood, last week decided to throw itself fully into, and at the mercy of, social media when it launched a revamped Web site.

Instead of its usual Web site, users who logged on to saw an overlay that houses the navigation for the site, which will lead to content pulled from Wiki­pedia, YouTube, Facebook, Flickr and Twit­ter ? all without leaving

Despite some reports that the campaign had been pulled last week because of prank postings, as of press time still linked to all of those social media sites.

In a statement, the company said the campaign reinforces its “core brand beliefs” of expecting the unexpected.

“Our core consumers’ behavior revolves around social and user-generated media,” said Carole Walker, VP of integrated mar­keting communications, Mars Snackfood US, in a statement.

“The new draws on this insight and acts as a guide to Skittles branded experiences that can already be found across the Web,” she said.

In an e-mail to DMNews, Skittles spokes­man Ryan Bowling said, “The Skittles Web site is permanent and not a short cam­paign.”

The new site is “daring” but also has the potential to backfire, said Ben Weisman, leading digital strategist at Iris-New York, which did not work on the campaign.

“The landscape of social media is new. We don’t know what works yet, but this was obviously done with forethought and a lot of long-term thinking,” he said. “However, the danger is it seemed forced and done as a press stunt.”

In fact, after a successful start to the campaign, Weisman said some of the Twit­ter comments had become “a bit cheeky and critical” after a few days.

However, Weisman gave Skittles credit for embracing social media where many brands shy away from it.

“You have to be comfortable with your brand message, knowing that consumers will have good and bad things to say,” he said. “But a lot of brands are insulating themselves unduly (from social media), but people are having these conversations out there anyway on the Internet.”

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