Advice to Office RE: Skittles Goes Viral

Here is an email I sent to my office regarding the recent Skittles website launch and re-launch – enjoy!


I wanted to bring to your attention a recent viral campaign that had all the right elements but was missing one thing: Good PR Advice.


The Situation:

Skittles was looking to take their social media prowess to the next level so they took a huge step and launched their website as a Twitter search page – using the field set to “#skittles”. The site automatically was refreshed as more and more people “Tweeted” using that “#skittles” language in their tweets.


The Pros:

Skittles took a bold move and received what I understand to have been millions of hits on the site that day (from a previously noted 15,000 a month). I know that myself and Leala both Tweeted for Skittles and saw our face on the website – I’m assuming more of us participated as well. Twitter conversations were BOOMING with people loving and people hating the change but good or bad, Skittles was the talk of the Twitter town. They wanted to claim that they listened to their audience and understood where they were communicating… One person stated: “What consumers say about the brand {Skittles} is more important than what the brand has to say to consumers.”


The Cons:

Just like how live TV can be unpredictable, the page had the same reaction. Although the tweets of praise were plenty, there were also people who used the face time on the Skittles website to promote themselves and speak very poorly about the Skittles brand. There were inappropriate comments left as well that Skittles was not prepared to face.


The End Result:

Skittles chose to take down the Twitter page and re-launch the page as the Skittles Facebook fan page. I think that they made a bold move in the first place and were probably in the right to take it down after a 24-hour stint but it begs the question: “Did no one prepare Skittles for the downsides of Twitter?”


Which brings me to my point: When you’re discussing social media avenues with your client, be sure to communicate clearly Twitter/Facebook/etc. is not about being involved just because everyone else is… it has to make sense for your client… and you have to be fully on-board for the commitment it takes and the positive AND negative effects it may have on your brand.


My two cents for what it’s worth: I think the Facebook page is smart since their target audience is younger kids… I think Twitter for a homepage was a gamble.


See below for some interesting links about the site and screen grabs:

Skittles Website:

Skittles Twitter Page Article on Mashable:

Skittles Post-Change to Facebook Article on Mashable:

MediaPost Article on WHY the website was killed:



Twitter Page Screen grab:



Facebook Page Screen grab:




March 3, 2009. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized.

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