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