Blog: Dean BestMars all a-Twitter about social networking

Dean Best | 3 March 2009

In a bid to boost the credibility of Skittles with its key teen audience, Mars has relaunched its brand website to feature consumer-generated content, much of which has been taken directly from social networking sites.

The site, launched last week, has dropped the more traditional direct marketing approach. Rather, acts as a filter on a number of other popular social media sites, including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Gone, the videos and games related to the product. Gone, the product information and in-your-face product placement. Instead, you are greeted with a list of consumer comments. There is only a small-ish Skittles logo to indicate that you have visited the Skittles homepage.

The brand says that while it is monitoring the site it is not changing any of the content.

This is clearly quite a radical attempt to solve the marketer's current dilemma – how to reach out to an audience that is becoming increasingly detached from traditional media.

The question then: does it work?

According to a Twitter search, yesterday (2 March) the term "Skittles" was among the most popular topics discussed on the site. So the move is certainly generating considerable “buzz” among the online community.

However, after a brief perusal of the comments posted so far, it became clear that people were Twittering about the brand’s presence on the site – not one of the comments I came across referred to the product itself.

One fairly typical posing read: “Skittles on Twitter, not engaging, simply hijacking twitter current buzz.”

So, perhaps Skittles has some way to go before it wins over its somewhat cynical target audience. Only time will tell whether this no-marketing marketing ploy will prove successful and how much truth there is in the adage “any publicity is good publicity”.

Katy Humphries, Deputy Editor 


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