Trump, Skittles and the death of real-time marketing
After Donald Trump Jr. tweeted a photo comparing Syrian refugees to a bowl of poisoned Skittles, many turned on tweet notifications for the Skittles brand. After all, this was the Mars brand’s Red Lobster-Beyonce moment — on steroids.
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) September 19, 2016
But Skittles chose to disengage, instead releasing a statement hours later to media. “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.”
Sometimes, even in marketing, discretion is the better part of valor.
Experts say it was the best thing it could have done. PRWeek called it the best corporate response ever. And agency executive who didn’t want to be named because his agency does work with Skittles (although was not involved in this particular incident) said that this was the ideal response on Skittles’ part and completely in line with its zany brand identity.
On Twitter too, those in the business applauded the move. Brandwatch crunched the numbers and found that while sentiment online is split evenly between positive and negative, positive mentions are applauding Mars’ response.
The kerfuffle shows just how dead real-time marketing is. The days of “dunk in the dark” are mostly over. Real-time marketing is rarely discussed at awards shows and industry conferences. Along with that move has come the death of war-rooms at agencies set up just to chase down any pop-culture moment that might be worth a fired off tweet.
Strategically speaking, real-time marketing isn’t long-term. Chasing down a blip can’t be something that clients would buy as a strategy. “I do think the brand newsroom is dead,” said Nadina Guglielmetti, managing director of social media at Huge. “You do see less and less of brands doing less opportunistic marketing.”
Stakes online are also higher. Guglielmetti said that overall, clients are much more cautious about how to spend money. “Content is expensive and it’s harder for brands to stand out, it’s harder to break through.” Legal teams now sit closer to social teams ready to muzzle any over-enthusiastic social media managers.
Customers are also more aware about how the sausage is made, which makes brands less likely to jump in on conversations.
Skittles exec: We’re trending!
SE: What? What’s going on? [sees Trump ad] …aw, god damn it!
— Jordan K (@JoKuz) September 20, 2016
Of course, by all accounts, Skittles was all the internet could think about. According to Brandwatch, Skittles has been mentioned over 262,000 times online since September 13 with over 243,000 mentions coming in the past two days. The Trump Jr. tweet was sent at 7 p.m.: Skittles saw its mentions increase by over 11,300 percent after that. There were also fake “statements” sent around.
— Chris Scott (@iamchrisscott) September 20, 2016
Skittles has been involved in matters far beyond candy before. It was the candy Trayvon Martin was carrying when he was shot by George Zimmerman in 2013, and unwittingly became a symbol of his innocence. At the time too, the brand stayed uninvolved.
“The days of freewheeling around Twitter are over,” said Guglielmetti. “Social media has grown up.”
Member ExclusiveMarketing Briefing: Ad execs and marketers say this Olympics has ‘lost its luster’
The typical global fervor for the Olympics is lacking this year, making it less of a marketing must than in years previous. More in this week's Digiday+ Marketing Briefing.
Member ExclusiveCMO Summit Recap: How marketers are adjusting to the delayed phase-out of third-party cookies
Digiday’s CMO Summit on July 19-20 covered some of the big issues facing marketers in this pivotal year, including the new timeline for the phase-out of third party cookies.
Cheat sheet: Comscore hopes to ease advertisers off cookies with new contextual targeting play
Comscore is hoping a series of data partnerships will help accelerate a pivot to contextual targeting, as ad buyers prepare for the end of third party cookies.
SponsoredHow the ad industry can use its borrowed time to future-proof first-party data solutions
Trent Lloyd, co-founder and head of brand solutions, Eyeota Google’s updated timeline for its Privacy Sandbox rollout, including its two-year delay of third-party cookie deprecation on Chrome, didn’t come as a surprise to many industry observers, given the limited utility of Google’s FLoC and the slow momentum of the Privacy Sandbox in the World Wide […]
Netflix’s new vp of game development Mike Verdu brings much-needed skillsets
Earlier this month, Netflix doubled down on its commitment to gaming by hiring Mike Verdu to head up its game-development department.
Stagwell bets on organic growth to power its merger with MDC Partners, as it retires the MDC name
Stagwell Group's merger with MDC Partners will close next week, and the new company expects major organic growth.