Friday, March 6, 2009

Skittles, Taste the Rainbow of Controversy

Not sure what the thinking was behind the recent launch of the new website but it has definitely caused a stir in both consumer and marketing circles. At first glance I myself wasn't sure what to think as I was left confused and shocked at the decision to leave the Skittles brand message open to interpretation to all those who visited their "site".

It has been all the buzz with many on the fence as to whether they would define it as being a greatly successful "campaign" or a failure of great proportions. Either way a brand invests a lot of time, money and effort into communicating the appropriate message and building a relationship with their consumers that involves a certain level of trust. With the introduction of social media, marketers now have a vehicle in which they may be able to tap into consumer trust to assist in spreading a relevant message.

At the same time, if not handled correctly malicious consumers have the ability to open the floodgates of profanity, vulgarity and all of the negative things that serve against the brand. The Mars candy brand quickly realized the power of the web in propagating a message (either good or bad) and the importance of having a damage control plan. Within 24 hours of launching the site with live feeds from Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube providing the main sources of content, Twitter was brought down due traffic overload.

The concept has far exceeded any expectation they could have had for its viral reach although at what cost? With a disorienting user experience, a gimmicky delivery and no substance or value being provided to end users, it would be a challenge to claim the program has been successful in the traditional sense.

Of course, should Skittles realize a lift in sales and/or are open to taking an edgier approach to their brand positioning (similar to that of an Axe body spray) than all the naysayers could quickly be proven wrong.

No comments: