After opening its home page, Skittles.com ventures into redesign 2.0
You can't really talk about the new skittles.com without talking about the other new skittles.com launched last year. The work of Agency.com, last year's version of skittles.com allowed visitors to view Skittles-related social media from sites like YouTube, Flickr, Facebook and Twitter. Unfortunately, some of the uncensored Twitter talk turned nasty (and profane even!), and people wrote things like, "Skittles gives you cancer and is the cause of all world evil."
This isn't true, of course. We all know Razzles gives you cancer and is the cause of all world evil. (In the interest of not being sued by Tootsie Roll Industries, which makes Razzles, that last remark was meant in jest.) Still, Skittles got stung by its bold foray into social media and recently unveiled a new skittles.com, created by Big Spaceship, that gives the candy maker more control over its message. Relying on the brand's "Experience the Rainbow" theme, the site provides a seemingly endless vertical scroll of bite-size content - everything from freaky photos, like one of an astronaut wearing clown makeup, to odd videos, including one of a freakishly long arm reaching from one cubicle into another to grab a bag of Skittles - that can be shared via Facebook (where the brand has nearly 4 million fans), Twitter and email.
So is the latest incarnation of skittles.com a success? OMMA asked
Tommy Means, founder of Mekanism; Matthew McGregor-Mento, executive creative director of Mr. Youth (no relation to the candy); and Larry Weintraub,
CEO and cofounder of digital engagement marketing agency Fanscape, to experience the rainbow for themselves and share their thoughts.
The site relies on the absurd humor that Skittles advertising is known for. Does the tone work for you?
Means: I like anything that an advertiser does that is fucked up and unexpected, and I just love that Skittles is a brand that just takes a chance and leans into Adult Swim or Tim & Eric Awesome Show weirdness. They're good with that, and they own that space [in the advertising world], so it makes perfect sense for them to own it online, as well.
Weintraub: It's definitely weird and amusing. It reminds me of Monty Python. It's got some of that '60s era vibe, yet it's modern at the same time, and it ties in with their wacky, psychedelic, twisted world.
McGregor-Mento: I'm glad Skittles kept the absurdist tone. I like it. They've been doing it for awhile, and it's something they've invested in. I will say absurd is getting harder and harder to do these days. There's tough competition out there.
What do you think of the endless vertical scroller as a way to deliver content?
Weintraub: It's like a rainbow: You can never get to the end of a rainbow, so you can never get to the end of this Web site.
Means: I like the simplicity of it, but I did find the loop.
There are video clips on skittles.com, but the rest of the content is static. Did you expect to find more interactivity?
McGregor-Mento: People have come to expect a certain amount of interactivity from a site like this. You want to play with the content, but the rooster and all these different things that you think would come to life when you click on them, don't.
Means: It would be great if it had more immersive stuff, and I assume that might be to come.
If you click on the orange Skittle at the top of the page, it takes you to shareskittles.com [built by Firstborn], where you can post side-by-side videos that make it look as though you are feeding Skittles to a friend. You like that?
Weintraub: I love that. Instead of just having a YouTube channel, they've made a YouTube channel you can create the content for and share. This is a nice, subtle wow.
I have to ask what you thought of the version of skittles.com that caused so much controversy last year. Did Skittles make a mistake in allowing an uncensored Twitter feed to appear on the site?
Means: That wasn't very smart. What we love to do at Mekanism is go to a site like that and write something really horrifying on it and then take a screen grab of it. [He laughs.] Well, I don't personally do that, but people in my office like to do that.
Weintraub: A lot of people said it was a horrible thing for the brand to put up the Twitter feed, but it was one of the best things I saw last year. Think about it: Who was talking about Skittles before that? They put themselves on the map.
McGregor-Mento: I realize that they got burned last time, but that can happen anywhere and to any brand at any time, and I don't think they should have shut down the site because of that. A few bad apples isn't what it's really about. It's about the community at large, and we find that communities self-correct.
Skittles is still investing in social media with this new site by making everything shareable via Facebook, Twitter and email. Is this a good way to generate social media chatter and community?
Weintraub: Without a doubt, this site is a success. It's a nice next step after what they did last time. Ultimately, what it's doing is it's pushing you to interact with the brand, because you can spend only so much time here. But if you like this experience, you're going to want to interact with the brand, and they really drive you to do that on Facebook. That's what a brand needs to do today - they need to engage with their audience, and you can only do that so much on a Web site, so you have to push them to places where you can interact with them.
Means: I don't want to say the microsite is going the way of the buffalo, but skittles.com is on an equal level with the Facebook and Twitter pages. This is a site that hosts content that's also being served up on their Facebook and Twitter pages, and they're working together nicely.
McGregor-Mento: The previous [incarnation of skittles.com] was more interesting and groundbreaking. They were taking the experience of what their brand was, and showing it living in all these different places. So, in some ways, this is a step backward. I'm glad to see they kept the absurd tone, but if they're going to do a microsite, if they're going to do a vertical scroller, engage me further. Nowadays, you need to give people a bit more, especially if you want them to share things.
Do you think this site has potential to evolve in terms of the content?
McGregor-Mento: Sure. I think the notion of this endless display of fun, absurd things could be a nice platform for future pieces, but what they've started off with is a little thin. I'm eager to see where they take it.
Means: Yeah. My only beef would be that I just wish there was more to it, a little bit more content, some more out-there stuff. But I'll give them a hall pass on that because I'm sure this is something that they're going to build on, and I do like the simplicity of it. You get in and get out, and I'm a big fan of low commitment in the world of digital.