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Skittles: where did the rainbow go?

Yesterday, a good friend of mine led me to what could possibly be the sign of corporate web sites to come. It turns out that Skittles no longer has a full web site. It’s now a floating widget, about the size of a large banner ad, that displays links that open in your internet browser.

How's this for web presence?

How's that for web presence?

Kudos on the design idea, but here’s where it gets really interesting.

Their “Home” page is now their Twitter page. Their “Friends” page is now their Facebook page. Their “Media” page is…you guessed it, YouTube. Their legal information has been reduced to a paragraph of aptly titled “gobbledygook”. This leads me to wonder, has the Skittles brand just gotten lazy?

I decided to take a look at the website of their parent company, Mars, Inc.. There I discovered that the scarcity of brand experience is not the method of choice. In fact, what you get is a slow-loading flash site with an interactive globe that longs to present a deluge of things I really don’t care about. It does, however, tell me more about the Skittles brand than I can squeeze out of It’s a bit hard to find at first due to the masssive amount of content, and definitely something you have to search for, but it’s there.

After a bit more research, I read that Mars is buying Wrigley, another cavity-inducing behemoth. Many of the Wrigley brands, such as Big Red and Life Savers, don’t have web sites (seriously, Google it). This discovery leads me to believe that there may be some hidden genius driving the candy industry towards this new design.

Consider where you come across these brands in the real world. Is it the candy aisle? Rarely. The candy store? Hardly. The candy restaurant? I wish. The truth is, they have to encounter you, usually in the checkout aisle, where you stand and wait with little else to do but endure your children’s pleas for Skittles. That same logic is now being used online: don’t wait for the customer to find you; instead, go where the customer is. Social media is turning the gears and keeping the content fresh, current, and relevant; thus creating a more effective (not to mention less expensive) web presence.

Under new light, his approach makes perfect sense. Long-gone are the days of teenagers going to play flash games on websites in computer lab. Instead, they’re updating their Twitter status, and Skittles is showing it’s awareness to it. I’m now interested to see how it’s used in other industries. I find that more and more major-label bands are dropping the expense of promoting via web site for a the dierct functionality and traffic of a simple MySpace page. I can’t wait to see how Wal-Mart tries this.

Until then, let’s reminisce to what was, shall we? Here’s a link to a time when Skittles had a home. Enjoy!

Thanks to Alisa Beyer for the heads-up on this!
Patrick King

Patrick is the Founder of Imagine and advisor to places on brand strategy and creative. His insights have been published in Inc. Magazine, SmartCEO, Washington Business Journal, The Washington Post, and Chief Marketer, among other publications, and shared at conferences throughout the US. He also has an amazing sock collection.

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