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Unicorns fart skittles

March 10th, 2009

At StephanieBamBam.net, I learned that Skittles.com has revamped their web site to be a weird social media experiment. Essentially, they are scouring the internet (in particular, twitter and wikipedia) for any mentions of ‘skittles’ and putting them, without any editing, right on their homepage. Indeed, when I clicked “chatter” on the site, one of the top tweets displayed was “Unicorns fart skittles.”

But the key thing is whether it sells more candy or not. As she says:

In the long run, is this going to make me buy more candy? Absolutely not. But I will be pointing to this as an example of UGC [user-generated content] gone bad for years to come. So for that, thanks Skittles!!

And she is quite negative about the experiment!

I, however, have a different take on the site. Although posters may be interested in seeing their tweets go on skittles.com, their messages are carried to their followers too. These messages far outweigh the exposure on skittles.com, and they are matched to their audience. I know that some of my readers, like Eric say, will *love* the title of this post. It will not reflect badly on skittles at all! And any negative connotation of “unicorns fart skittles” that one sees on skittles.com must be taken with a grain of salt.

I would be interested in seeing if the campaign has any impact on sales or not, because I am bit more bullish about the impact than Stephanie is.

Anyone for a rainbow of fruit flavors?

3. et cetera , , ,

  1. Eric
    March 11th, 2009 at 10:22 | #1

    I agree with you. Sounds like a lot of free press to me. And, frankly unicorns farting skittles sounds more enticing to me than the real ingredients hydrogenated vegetable oils (which are really bad for cholesterol levels), sugar (which makes me fat) and gelatin (which I don't like to think about how it is made). I think one would be hard pressed to show any change in sales of skittles related to this type of campaign but ultimate awareness and consumer interest in the product is a combination of the viral impact of all their channels and marketing

  2. mweiksner
    March 11th, 2009 at 10:40 | #2

    I agree. So, but there ought to be some measurable impact of the campaign. Perhaps awareness of skittles in a survey, or a more favorable attitude towards skittles? Interesting to think about how to measure success of this kind of campaign, where there is potentially negative and positive exposure.

  3. March 11th, 2009 at 11:31 | #3

    Yeaah, one thing I've never been accused of is not being opinionated. :) DOn't get me wrong, I LOVE user generated content, that's pretty much been my entire career, but I think companies rush into it without knowing what they're doing, and the skittles experiment was a clear example of that.

    I believe that while short-term results can often be achieved by doing something like this, the ultimate response from the company (sales, business, exec, pr) is a negative one, and not something to be taken lightly without a LOT of warning. Brands are very, very touchy about what is said about their product, and the inability to control ugc is still something they're getting used to.

    It's also simply sleazy to frame another company's site (after doing it to twitter, they moved on to facebook (but that's a whole other thing).

    Someone quoted a 200+ jump in sales number in my blog comments, but I kinda need to see a source…not only would that be really neat for skittles (and just for UGC knowledge in general), but it'd be incredibly fast to know how well the campaign worked. I didn't think consumer sales numbers were returned that quickly.

  4. mweiksner
    March 12th, 2009 at 09:08 | #4

    200+ jump in sales? Sounds unlikely but would be amazing. I have been working in UGC for a decade too, so I share your enthusiasm and understanding of the issues associated with it. Thanks for you comment!

  5. April 5th, 2009 at 09:49 | #5

    Lipitor (atorvastatin) for High Cholesterol: Reduced my overall cholesterol from 288 to 126 in one month. However, I now seem to have a lot of various pains throughout my body. Feet, back, etc.

  6. December 5th, 2009 at 23:48 | #6

    nah, there will be no favorable attitude toward skittles… :D

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