Have You Experienced the Rainbow?

If you haven’t been to the Skittles website in a while (or perhaps, ever) now would be a good time to take a peek.  What you might expect to be a typical site, designed to provide advertisement and purchase opportunities, has undergone quite a facelift.  Unlike most sites, the website for Skittles has been reborn as a social media machine disguised as a blog.  Near the top of the page is the familiar Skittles slogan, “Taste the Rainbow.”  Scroll down a bit, and you’ll find an entirely irrelevant tweet from the Skittles Twitter account. @Skittles says, “It’s all fun and games until the chinchillas show up with the karaoke machine.” Next come a few phrases like “lace the train slow,” “trace the vein bro,” and “encase the faint glow,” all with coordinating pictures and all rhyming with the original slogan of “taste the rainbow.” Add a few quirky videos, more interesting tweets from fans, and many opportunities to share things via social media, and  you’ve pretty much summed up Skittles’ entire online marketing tactic.

The Skittles commercials take on a similar level of oddity as their website.  Whether it’s a teenager catching “Skittles pox” from a “highly infected” friend with the message to “contract the rainbow,” or a guidance counselor eating Skittles out of a student’s unibrow with the message to “pluck the rainbow,” these commercials seem to be getting stranger and more extreme year to year.  So, do these weird messages work to promote their product?  Their 23 million Facebook fans, 47,000 followers on Twitter, and nearly 10 million views on YouTube would suggest that they do.

As a product that has been a favorite with candy-lovers since their appearance in 1979, Skittles has little need for getting their brand noticed so much as keeping their brand relevant.  That’s exactly the idea behind their weird marketing.  By showcasing their social media followers on their website, and giving fans something different to talk about, Skittles is making people rethink what they already know about Skittles and driving them back to their brand.  The genius behind this tactic is that the product hasn’t changed.  What they are changing is stated right at the top of their site.  “Experience the rainbow.”  Skittles is changing the whole experience associated with their little chewy candies in a colorful shell to be more exciting and hilarious than before.

What seems to appeal to consumers these days, especially to Skittles’ target market of pre-teens and adolescents, is the eccentric and the humorous.  Skittles has mastered both of these arts.  Not only are they staying relevant, they’re staying interesting.  As advertising trends continue to shift, Skittles will doubtless continue to meet the needs of their consumers and remain a favorite fruity snack to all.  The only question now, is what comes next.

Ally Walton, Hannah Eure, Gene Lee, Lauren Habig, Erin Kiffmeyer

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11 thoughts on “Have You Experienced the Rainbow?

  1. The ads are definitely consistent with their look and feel even if that look and feel is quirky. My kids do pay attention and fgenerally find them enjoyable. You offer some good evidence for the popularity of Skilttels but how does it compare with more “traditional candy” like M&Ms or mainstream chewing gum–or even seemingly closer products like Starburst? I also wonder about some larger implications of what you note in your conclusion. Is the new standard of “relevant and interesting” a healthy one? No big deal when it’s a candy. But what if that standard becomes more pervasive? What if marketers tell politicians “just be relevant and interesting” what if sports owners don’t care about championships but focus on “relevant and interesting” as they compose their teams? I’m not trying to sound like a cranky old guy but as a cranky old guy I would certainly want ethics and sound reasoning to win the day for products other than candies. So while this works for Skittles, I hope IMC practitioners will think of this as a context-specific strategy or standard.

  2. I haven’t looked at the website, but I have noticed their commercials getting more strange everyday. The latest one I saw about a boy having “Skittles pox” made me stray away from the candy because as I saw the girl pick the skittle off of the boy’s face and eat it I couldn’t help but be grossed out. I’m not sure exactly what Skittles advertisers are trying to relay as their brand personality, but I think they may be going too unique and eccentric.

  3. The premise behind the Skittles brand is that they appeal to not only children or adolescents, but to the “kid” in older audiences as well. With similarities in style to SpongeBob, “skittles” execs might target younger audiences, although the uniqueness and boldness reaches ages that stem to the later twenties. The audiences who appreciate the skittles brand enjoy the style of messages, that there’s a “kid” in all of us. I disagree that the advertisers are going too unique and/or eccentric, because I believe they have succeeded in leaving an impression, either good or bad, to the “consumers” who are able to make the decisions to purchase or not purchase their product. Although we, as consumers who can make purchases, might not actually purchase a skittles package due to the funny commercial we were exposed to, we might be more inclined to discuss the skittles product, therefore spread the word to children (or whomever). “Tasting the Rainbow” has become a catch phrase that consumers have heard before or hear and thereby continue to pass on.

  4. The skittles campaign is genius. Rather than coming up with a brand new slogan or campaign, they revamped their old one. Their taste the rainbow ads with trees that sprouted colorful skittles are now coincided with humorous ads that will get their target market talking. Times have changed and so has the demographic. Ads are more about engaging their consumers in social media than before when they just got an idea across. Now instead of just buy skittles and taste the rainbow, it is buy skittles, taste the rainbow, and share your experience with the world with tweets and other media. As Guiness would say, “BRILLIANT!”

  5. Skittles advertisements/ commercials are just plain weird now. Skittles are great and all but I try not to think of their commercials when I eat them. If I had never had Skittles before they made their commercials weird, the way they advertise them on TV would not interest me to go out and try them.

  6. I think now days humor is trying to take over the world of advertising, instead of individuals being more focused on the product itself. I remember when Skittles commericals used to be plain and simple, just to get the point across. Now the Skittles commercials are more focused on humor to draw the consumer in and have them questioning the product, making them a loyal customer. With people like myself, humor makes advertising beneficial.

  7. I’ve honestly never really thought about skittles advertisements and commercials too deeply. I totally agree that they are weird and funny but that’s what attracts attention and potential customers. I love how random and odd their advertisements are and I can honestly say that they actually make me crave skittles sometimes. I appreciate the risks that the skittles company is taking each and every time they release a weird commercial. It makes them completely different. Their ads make them quirky which works very well in my opinion.

  8. I understand that in these weird TV ads they are trying to market their product as fun and exciting, but I do not think they effectively relay this message. I don’t think that the commercials are relevant to the brand. Maybe I am unable to relate to the commercials because I’m out of their target audience, but in watching the ad’s I am no more compelled to eat Skittles than before seeing the ad. If I wanted to taste the rainbow, I certainly wouldn’t crave the experience after watching their wacky ads.

  9. The Skittles campaigns have become more and more odd but it clearly is working. I can remember to being a kid a barely seeing any commercials and or the past few years they continue to grow. Its amazing they were able to find a marketing technique that allows the company to keep growing in the small market they are in. But it is a technique that is growing none the less. I see more and more odd commercials that may just include a short awkward conversation and then the product that is being sold is shown and that is it but for the most part these techniques have been working great.

  10. I think this is very interesting marketing tactic, to say the least. Skittles commercials have always been pretty quirky, in my opinion, and so I guess that’s the brand image that they’re really trying to assert. Weird and quirky is fun and all, but as Tilson mentioned, how weird is too weird? Some of the commercials are more eyebrow raising than anything, and don’t make me feel the least bit compelled to go out and try them. However, I can appreciate the way they have their website set up because they’re really focusing on engaging their consumers.

  11. Skittles have made huge strides with their new marketing campaign. They are “changing the way we eat candy”. It is not only just a bag of multicolored sugar, but an experience into the realm of fantasy. When you eat skittles, it rains color from the sky, your hair turns rainbow, your tongue changes colors, your eyebrows could become covered in skittles….. Truly this new marketing campaign is about the skittles experience. Other candies like Snickers focus on how their candy will fill you up, (Hungry? Grab a Snickers), yet Skittles focuses on an entirely different thing. I think Skittles marketing makes them unique and a standout within the candy aisle.

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