I come before you today to discuss a matter of grave concern. All week long, with the rest of the world so calm as to make me somnolescent (!), I've been spending my days and nights wondering if Skittles' social media campaign was:
a) A rotten idea because people said naughty things on Twitter about #skittles like: "Yeah, #starburst would totally beat the shit out of #skittles in a back alley fight." (That was a mild tweet considering what some people said, but this is a family social media column, dammit!)
b) A great idea because people are now talking about Skittles, and the brand now has more than a half million fans on Facebook.
c) A rip-off of Modernista, which did a similar thing to its home page way back in ‘08.
d) A sure sign of the apocalypse.
I'm going to have to go with "d" (with a smattering of "b"). Feel free to make your own selection (and I know you will) in the comments below. Seriously, folks, the Dow is flirting with the dreaded 6000, job losses are accelerating, but the most buzz I've heard all week -- and this includes the massive media blitz surrounding U2's new album -- is about little rainbow-colored candies? Are you kidding me? Obviously, what social media watchers everywhere need to get isn't a life, but a refuge from the current state of affairs.
They appear to have found it in Skittles.
For those who've missed it -- though it seems virtually impossible that anyone reading this column did -- what Skittles did earlier this week was make its home page the Twitter feed for all mentions of Skittles, while also incorporating, through a pop-up window, links to other social media "chatter" about the brand. Today, the default social media site at Skittles.com is the far more innocuous Facebook fan page for the brand, where people can read comments like "Skittles are my favorite!" ... Oh, the banality! (BTW, Skittles didn't "pull" the Twitter page. The plan was to rotate different social media pages, and the Twitter page may come back. Skittles.com still links to it.)
Now, it's time to drown in social media clichés, like the following: The mere fact I'm writing about this means the campaign achieved some success. Awareness of Skittles on the Web probably hasn't been this high, ever. The underpinning for the strategy for this campaign is in itself a social media cliché: The consumers own the brand.
But I'd also like to offer that, in obsessing about this campaign, social media watchers are becoming their own cliché. What stood out to me in looking at the tweets about Skittles this morning wasn't the naughty stuff, which seems to have run its course, but the whole meta phenomenon where people aren't talking about Skittles per se, but what the Skittles campaign means for social media. Then there's all the hand-wringing about the fact that some people said naughty things about Skittles and how that somehow mars the campaign (no pun intended, though Skittles is made by Mars). C'mon. Do you really think the agency and client were so naïve as to not know that would be part of it?
It's time to move on to something truly important. Kudos to Skittles and Agency.com for embracing the idea that it's not the brand home page that defines the brand. That's a good thing. But we knew that already.