The Blog

  • March 2, 2009
  • To skittle, per chance to market

    Well, it’s Monday and it’s snowing and my kid doesn’t have school and my wife doesn’t have school.  And I am staring at twitter and all the hoop-la about Skittles.  Check it out—Skittles has replaced their regular web presence with a twitter-scape linking to various public social media sites linking people while still offering the usual corporate video and advertising tucked into places like Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube.

    Ok, is this important?  Probably.  Why?  Hard to sum up in a few words.  Fundamentally Skittles, a forgettable and incidental little bit of candy, is to Internet marketing what Seinfeld was to TV (I hear he’s planning a new show, BTW).

    Seinfeld was the quintessential show about nothing—a weekly glimpse into the lives of smart-ish, careerist-ish, young-ish urbanites with nothing in life to struggle to attain except meaning.  Maslow on steroids.  You have to work to care about Seinfeld’s characters—compared to their forebears a mere century ago, they have everything and then some, yet happiness eludes them.

    Skittles is a little something (a little nothing) a confection full of empty calories that give you a short term sugar high and a longer lasting bit of flesh to work off at the gym.  It is the perfect here-and-gone bit of non-nourishment for the Seinfeld character. 

    As marketing, Skittles on twitter makes perfect sense.  It establishes the rule that an inconsequential product should have inconsequential (and free) marketing.  Skittles on twitter might save a small fortune in ad expense and while it may not be reflected in the price, the savings will definitely be reflected in the brand’s bottom line. 

    Skittle is a noun and it will become a verb.  To skittle a product will be to make all of its marketing viral and viral is good because it gets its message to exactly the people prepared to purchase and no one else.  No wasted impressions, no long explanation—“it does this or that”, “it’s important because”, etc.  Skittles demonstrates that we now have the technology and human infrastructure to pull this off.  I see parallels with the Seinfeld episode about the soup Nazi, but maybe it’s me.  I dunno.

    Anything that can be designed for a consumer market and consumed without residue (e.g. an experience) can now be skittled.  That means the arrival of a true Experience Economy.  Congratulations to Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore, you have lived to see this day.  However, authenticity may still elude us (see the Seinfeld problem).

    I can see vacation destinations tailored to very specific groups and only marketed—or skittled—through twitter.  I will miss the mid-winter TV ads for blue skies and clear blue tropical waters with tanned and nearly naked couples frolicking in the surf, especially on days like this.  But maybe skittling will proliferate such ads, they’ll just be on the Internet and you’ll need to search for them.  But probably, you will be referred by a friend.

    All right then!  Skittle is now a verb.  Good luck with that.

    Published: 15 years ago

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