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Skittles Draws Praise for Response to Viral Tweet

September 22, 2016


After Donald Trump Jr. tweeted a photo Monday comparing Syrian refugees to poisonous Skittles, many users turned on tweet notifications for the candy brand to see what its response would be.

The tweet from the Republican presidential candidate’s son read: “If I had a bowl of Skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful? That’s our Syrian refugee problem.”

But as Digiday reports, Skittles’ parent company, Wrigley Americas, did not respond directly to the controversial tweet, instead releasing a statement to the media that said: “Skittles are candy. Refugees are people. We don’t feel it’s an appropriate analogy. We will respectfully refrain from further commentary as anything we say could be misinterpreted as marketing.”

Branding experts applauded the measured response. According to Digiday, the fact that Skittles did not take the bait shows that the era of real-time marketing — where brands would opportunistically comment on unfolding events to promote their products — has passed, along with war rooms set up to issue clever social media responses to pop-culture moments.

The “brand newsroom is dead,” said Nadina Guglielmetti, managing director of social media at the agency Huge. “Content is expensive, and it’s harder for brands to stand out.” At the same time, legal teams now sit ready to muzzle overly enthusiastic social media managers.

“The days of freewheeling around Twitter are over,” she said. “Social media has grown up.” — Greg Beaubien


Todd Nelson says:

This is a strong example of effective crisis communication—brief, to the point, nearly impossible to misinterpret and spot-on with brand identity.

Sept. 23, 2016

Alberto H. Soto says:

Wrigley America's know how to pick a battle! They are aware this could backfire so they were meticulous but straightforward. Kudos!

Sept. 29, 2016

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