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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Skittles - Anarchy marketing?

So much chatter about a move by the Skittles marketing team to fully engage themselves in the social media universe. But does it really matter? Outside of the handful of us marketing professionals and twitter addicts, has Mars really added any value to the Skittles brand?

First, I must point out that this is not a "bold brand move" for Skittles. In fact it has nothing to do with branding. Brand is building familiarity, recognition, comfort, and engagement with a product. The current actions are a marketing gimmick. While there is a demonstration that the brand does have legs to stand on, and the display of some fan's engagement gives testimony to the brand power, this act in itself is not a bold brand move. 

So Skittles made their homepage a Twitter search, then a Facebook fan page, then Wikipedia entry about Skittles, then a YouTube page... So what? Other brands are utilizing these things, yet maintain a rich web site with value adding content from the people who tell the message the way it should be told, the brand management team. No F-words, no mystery content, no age-verification to keep away the children. Which really is the biggest loss in all of this, they've abandoned the largest audience that can tolerate eating Skittles. 

Will any of this activity hurt the Skittles brand in the long-term. It's not likely. Just like Coca-Cola, Budweiser, or any other mega-brand can afford to take a chance on a losing ad campaign occasionally, this just gets chalked up as another marketing tactic and they take what they can from it. The real measure will be in whether they use that attention and testing to make positive strides with their sales efforts.

But please, don't call it branding.

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