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Why the new Skittles website is ridiculous but I don’t actually care

Skittles is one of my favorite candies. I love opening up a fresh pack, finding one of each color and squishing them together to make a rainbow. It just makes me happy.

I’ve been eating Skittles my whole life and I’ve been on a computer my whole life, and yet never in a million years would it occur to me to go to the Skittles website.

Why? Because the Skittles website does not enhance the Skittles experience.

I don’t need a website to find Skittles in a store — they’re in every deli, magazine shop and bodega in NYC. I don’t need a website to tell me how to use Skittles — they’re pretty, they’re sweet, and they very obviously belong in my mouth. I don’t need a website to convince me that Skittles are good for me — they’re not, and I don’t particularly care.

The Skittles website is not for the Skittles “user”. It always has been, and always will be, a corporate obligation. A piece of marketing collateral. It has a very small user base: Skittles executives, marketing departments at competitive brands, and graphic design students looking for inspiration. Its objective is to demonstrate professionalism, modernity, and whimsy. It is simply not meant for the consumer.

Everyone was up in arms yesterday so I thought I should share my perspective on the situation. What happened? Skittles decided to pretty much scrap their website and do a social media experiment: just display the results of “skittles” in Twitter Search with a small branding and page navigation layer in the top left. On the one hand it’s ridiculous — it makes no logical sense for Skittles to so tightly tie their brand to any social networking site, *least* of all Twitter which has a considerably higher age demographic and white collar, professional user base. On the other hand it’s pure genius — the most connected and vocal group on the web can’t stop talking about Skittles! The site cost next to nothing to build and they are getting totally free but incredibly valuable word-of-mouth marketing out of it, plus they’ve positioned themselves as leaders in the space. Given their target audience, it’s a home run.

When I went to Skittles.com yesterday, my jaw dropped. The fact that they redirect to a page full of what people are saying about them — the good and the bad — shows a lot of chutzpah. It shows a willingness to take a big risk with an unprecedented action. I’m guessing it won’t be up for long (it pretty much killed Twitter’s servers yesterday) , but it’ll certainly be talked about for years to come, and will likely be considered the moment when Twitter tipped.

Media page (YouTube)

Products page

Still, ask a kid in a candy store about the new Skittles website, or his dad buying him the candy, and they’ll think you’re nuts.

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  • brian papa

    I got really mad (like furious) at Skittles for daring to leverage Twitter's publicly available data, but then I tasted the rainbow and calmed down. They really are that good! How could anybody be angry at Skittles?

  • http://hudsn.org hud

    this was the more reasonable and measured reaction, since of course it mirrors my own. skittles.com was worthless, until now. but who cares!

  • http://gilberto.prujansky.com gprujansky

    Hey! I actually think that they could add something to the brand, but indeed not with that kind of site.
    Loved the pics, btw! ;-)

  • http://www.mattrobin.com Matt Robin

    I think it's a masterstroke! I've seen a few other sites that have tried to do the same thing, but never on the same scale.

    Skittles.com should be applauded for its daring and, hey – look at how much extra publicity it has generated for their brand! ;)

    I'm actually surprised more sites don't do this (when they could).

  • bnunnally

    I was part of the crowd that thought it was very annoying. When I am using my computer, I always want to feel 'in control' and that is exactly what Skittles took away from me with their new experiment.

    When I checked it out yesterday, it redirected me to a Facebook page all about Skittles. At first, I thought that was cool and clever. I wasn't sure if it was a skinned website that looks like Facebook, or really a Facebook page. In order to find out I clicked the Home link in the actual FB navigation. Sure enough it was really FB, but now I am looking at my newsfeed with this weird Skittles frame in the top left corner and my url has been totally jacked.

    There in lies the problem I have with their social media experiment. Skittles hijacked the experience that I am accustom to having when using Facebook, and I was no longer in control.

  • magicpai

    I also think its brilliant. I was also redirected to FB but I actually got sucked into their a flash widget that allows you to create your own mix track of skittles sound samples by popping the little guys into a color wheel. The sounds of people crunching on hard shelled candies drove me nuts with desire. I actually got up, walked out of my office, went down the street and bought sour skittles from the convenience store. They were delicious.

  • Pingback: Skittles Web Site: Who’s The Audience? « WiredPen

  • http://theredheadsaid.com Charlene Jaszewski

    OMG you made Skittle Skulpture! do you eat it too? silly girl. ;)

  • http://www.megsutton.com Megan

    Just seeing those pictures make me want Skittles SO bad. I heard about the website thing but I really have never seen the point of candy sites. I'd rather just eat the candy.

    The squished rainbow thing is cute! I'll have to try that. My method is to always grab two at a time, so I have a double flavor, whether its two flavors mixed or two of the same. :D

  • an

    it was original when modernista did it, and i suppose the twitter angle is somewhat interesting, but overall i think this trick has now officially jumped the shark.