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Skittles: An Interesting Experiment in Harnessing User-Generated Content

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Skittles: An Interesting Experiment in Harnessing User-Generated Content

Last week, Skittles launched a radical new marketing campaign designed to take advantage of social media and harness user-generated content in a way not done before by a consumer brand.  The company replaced its Website, almost exclusively, with user-generated content.  Initially, Twitter became the site’s home page, but the company had to shift strategy after some “tweets” became profane and inappropriate.  The company has been changing the site it uses as its home page, first Facebook, then the Wikipedia entry dedicated to Skittles and, now, YouTube.  Skittles provides the information architecture for the site, but the majority of the links head to user-generated content.

Skittles Home Page

This strategy took to an extreme the type of idea Aaron addressed in his blog post on the necessity of a home page, by asking, “Does a consumer products company need to generate its own content?”  While the final analysis has yet to be done on this campaign and its success, it is an interesting and in my opinion, a worthwhile experiment.

The site has certainly gotten people all over the Web talking about Skittles!  As CPG companies contemplate how to make their Websites relevant, I think the Skittles experiment can serve as a reminder to be thinking about the Web in a different way – to create brand ambassadors by incorporating user-generated content and collecting feedback in any form in which they choose to offer it.  This method, unfortunately, can backfire if the supposed brand ambassadors are not actually proponents. That said, one wonders if negative buzz is ever really negative. Even if I say that I don’t like Skittles, someone else may fervently disagree and go out and buy 20 packages!

I think Skittles has provided an interesting glimpse into the next generation of Websites, but has also demonstrated that there is still a lot of work to be done to determine how best to capture and employ the on-going online conversation about a brand in a meaningful and powerful way.

We want to know – what do you think about the campaign?  Tell us in your comments below!