Skittles Ain’t Havin’ It!

Leave Skittles alone! What did they ever do to you?!


The Twitter-sphere was in an uproar last Monday night when Donald Trump Jr. (the son of Republic nominee, Donald Trump) made a distasteful comment on his Twitter account when comparing Syrian refugees to the candy, Skittles (Hauser, 2016). comparision-of-skittles-copy

Skittles responded to the comment in the most direct and elegant manner, saying just enough to acknowledge Trump Jr’s comment, and being tactful by not getting caught-up in a sparing match of words, as to not fuel the drama.


Skittles’ parent company, Mars, Inc., packed a punch in the short Twitter statement: (1) The company disagreed with the statement without raging full-on war with the Republican nominee’s son, (2) they acted humanely by acknowledging that the refugees are people (and not candy) (3) and created great marketing for Skittles by not exploiting the situation, which in the end served as the best marketing technique (Disis, 2016; Wheaton, 2016).

Per AdWeek (Wheaton, 2016), Skittles was the most trending topic on Monday after Trump Jr.’s comment. Mar’s, Incorporated’s comment received 7.6K “Likes,” and had 5.3K “Retweets.” This is a company whose brand did an excellent job of taking the high-road and then being warded for it, as it raised Skittles’ brand equity (Wheaton, 2016; Young, 2014). I believe their action has won them high-favor with existing Skittles enthusiasts and potential customers. At the end of the day, when people use their buying power, they, we (I include myself in this context) ,want to invest in a brand of substance (Young, 2014).

Skittles via Mars, Incorporated, taught us marketing students the following 3 marketing lessons: (1) use the power of social media for good (Young, 2014); (2), to complement the previous point, the power of ‘word of mouse’ is a real thing (Young, 2014). People commenting and sharing opinions all over the web leaves a lasting ether imprint, so be on the right side of history, as ‘sitting-it-out’ can generate more good than milking the situation for all it’s worth (as evidenced by the number of ‘Likes’ and ‘Retweets’ Mars, Incorporated received); (3) brand association helps create brand loyalty (Young, 2014), and the words that come to mind after knowing how well Skittles-Mars, Incorporated, handled this situation include:  cool, humane, and people-driven.

Next time I’m in line at my local Gelson’s, I’m gonna grab a bag of Skittles, they deserve my business.

“Taste The Rainbow”



Disis, J. (2016, September, 20). What corporate American can learn from Skittles’ response to Donald Trump Jr. CNN Money [online]. Retrieved from,

Hauser, C. (2016, September 20). Donald Trump Jr. compares Syrian refugees to Skittles that ‘would kill you’. The New York Times [online]. Retrieved from,

Wheaton, K. (2016, September). Ad review:  Skittles make the play of the week. AdAge [online]. Retrieved from,

Young, A. (2014). Brand media strategy: Integrated communications planning in the digital era. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.


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6 Responses to Skittles Ain’t Havin’ It!

  1. Manfred says:

    I have seen some of Skittles’ more “lewd” online commercials and they are hilarious. But the Brand has always had this fringe humor marketing, which I think mimics the fun nature of the candy. But with this recent use of the candy to bring some association to the number of potential terrorists being imported to this country seemed to be something out of The Onion. I had to look twice to make sure that it wasn’t.

    Now, as for the handling of the Social Media blitz by their parent company, Mars, Inc., tactful and safe.

    I wonder… Is there a missed opportunity here? Could they have turned this into a lite and frivolous romp through one of the most contentious political seasons in the history of this nation? Maybe. But in this world of corporate responsibility, this high-risk attempt could have backfired. Or, it could have made the next fiscal quarter the best in its history. We will never know.

    • Barbie says:

      Skittles’ fringe humor makes the reply from Mars perfect. The Skittles social media pages get to remain light hearted while the corporate account addresses the issue swiftly. Children only following @Skittles won’t be accidentally dragged into the rabbit hole of the controversy, and @Mars gets to put the issue to rest. I absolutely love how the brand handled it.

  2. Han Na says:

    Yeah. So True! Skittles are candy; refugees are people. Nothing more to be said.
    Mars, Inc., wisely responded to this political matter. I’m impressed how the company used plain language to express its position. The power of social media in this case clearly became the ally to the company. Its response has been liked and retweeted by many people and strengthen the brand loyalty. Another great example demonstrating the power of “word of mouth”.

  3. Joe Garcia III says:

    Good job on your blog regarding ‘Skittles Ain’t Havin’ It!’ I like Skittles and when I heard Trump Jr. using Skittles as an analogy I knew right away that if anything Skittles is going to be thrown in the spotlight. But I also knew that Skittles even if the company said nothing would not be looked at negatively, because most people know that when high profile people use an example and mention a brand for an example they can separate what is being said and by whom is saying it, in this case Trump Jr. This presidential election is at an all time high when it comes to media coverage. Anything that is said by both campaigns is being looked at through a microscope. In this case Skittles went viral when Trump Jr. compared Syrian refugees to the candy. Comparing refugees to candy was not the smartest thing to do, but the way Skittles handled it was perfect. Mars the company that owns Skittles put out a statement and kept the message short and to the point. That in no way do they support what Trump Jr. said and made it clear that candy is just candy and should in no way be compared to refugees.

  4. Smith says:


    This is directed toward your blog itself: awesome use of title, the right amount of visuals and content. Witty, relevant, well done! You are the Skittles of all bloggers!


  5. Stacie says:

    I think that people took this way too far. I do like how the company responded, so that people didn’t think it was a marketing tactic. Yes, Skittles are candy and refugees are people but I thought that the analogy was something that people could understand. There are bad refugees out there so why take the risk? While this is not meant to get political, I think its funny how it got blown out of proportion and is actually giving Skittle some press. It would be interesting to see if sales have increased because of this.