Skittles Social Media Campaign - Is it the Right Kind of Attention?

Today Skittles launched a new public relations and social media marketing campaign. If you go to you’ll find a box in the upper left hand corner with the standard Skittles information. The difference now is that the entire background of the main site landing page is set up to be a live-search of their company name via Twitter Search. If you click on Media you’ll find their YouTube channel as the background, yet still the Skittles box remains as does their domain name! Clicking on Friends brings you to their Facebook Fan Page, yet still the Skittles box remains! (I feel like I’m writing a children’s book! Bear Goes to Social Media?) There are only two links that you click that will actually keep you in the domain: Contact and Products. 

I love that Skittles is willing to “bare it all” regarding their product and their name. Twitter Search is a live search of what is being said. Many people use this for reputation monitoring, searching for a particular person or topic. What comes with the good of Twitter Search is also the bad. Anyone can put anything out there. Typing a curse word (or string of curse words, even) and adding the word “skittles” into the mix will get you prominently displayed on the Skittles homepage. It’s not exactly the kind of thing I’d want on there as a business owner. As a parent, it’s also something I wouldn’t want my child to see there! Granted, there is a pop-up that forces you to verify your age before getting to see more of the page. 

Hold your horses. Before you can check out, you've gotta tell us your age. So spill it: 

Just a heads up: Any stuff beyond the page is actually another site and not in our control. This panel may be hovering over the page, but SKITTLES® isn't responsible for what other people post and say on these sites. Click the box below to acknowledge that you know SKITTLES® isn't responsible for that stuff. 

I thought, ok well this is great. They are keeping out the kids that shouldn’t be seeing random inappropriate talk. There are some flaws in what they’re doing though. 

First, their little pop-up box doesn’t cover enough of the screen as I can see tweets below the box and to the left of the box. Secondly, I put in my birthday and got through. I’m of age, but that’s about all you’ll get from me! I wondered what the cut-off was, if any. I entered a birthday in 1997 (a 12 year old). It let me through just fine. I then entered a birthday in 2001 (a 7 year old) and was told “No way, Jose. Unfortunately you aren't eligible to visit the site.” Well that’s good to know that my 7-year old won’t be granted full-access but the 12-year old neighbor kid will be. The box that contained the denial was smaller than even the cornered Skittles box. I could basically see the entire site. How does that prevent anything? It doesn’t. 

Moving on, Skittles' little disclaimer (they say Terms and Conditions) is them shirking all responsibility for any content displayed on their site. That’s pretty sad. Tell me what I’m getting into before you tell me that I need to click away my right to be upset with you. Perhaps with such fantastic coding they could even set up some filters for language that I’ve seen displayed by the disrespectful attention junkies. 

To me one of the most important parts of this is that they’re all over the social sites publishing the content, trying to get their brand known and attempting to gain some interest. That’s great! What they aren’t doing is being social. This is social media people! Social is defined as such: Relating to human society and interaction between its members. I don’t see anyone from Skittles doing any kind of personal interaction. That, is where their biggest fail here has been. In launching these, there should have been a team of Skittles Twitterers out there fielding comments and monitoring the reputation of their company. When I first went to the site I actually looked all over trying to find where I could see the Skittles people talking to us. It was no where to be found! Fail! 

This is a great way to bring attention to a brand, and attention it has gotten! While I believe the idea is golden, their approach and application has failed in my book. Instead of only complaining about how they went about it, I’d suggest some alterations to their strategy:

  1. Don’t make Twitter Search your home page.
  2. If you do make it your home page, do not allow visibility of the site until the age has been entered.
  3. Inform your visitors of what they’re viewing, not just that that content isn’t your own.
  4. Set up a realistic age to be blocked at. I believe 12 is too young to be seeing some of the language I have seen.
  5. Find a way to filter the content in the stream so that R-rated language does not display.
  6. Be social on the social media sites. 

So Skittles, this campaign has brought you the attention you desired but is it the right kind of attention? I don't believe so. What do YOU think?

Edit: Moments after posting this article, I refreshed the Skittles home page and they're now showing their Wikipedia entry as the background. The Twitter Search is now only viewable from the Skittles Chatter link.

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