When Jeremiah Owyang wrote his post “Your Corporate Homepage is Really Google.com”, I’m not sure he ever thought organizations would take it literally. But today, when I, and the other denizens of Twitteronia, logged on, we were met with a barrage of noise about the new Skittles.com Web site. [DISCLAIMER: Veritas, my employer, has a number of clients that could be considered competitors to Skittles and I have worked on competing brands in the past]
The products page is its Wikipedia entry page:
And its “friends” page is its Facebook fan page. Note almost 600,000 fans.
I have to admit, I was kind of taken aback. It is a very, very cool idea to hand your entire brand over to your community (after all, all of the Skittles chatter on Twitter would be on its home page) but it is also kind of reckless – after all, all of the Skittles chatter on Twitter would be on your home page. I never knew you could flavour bong water with Skittles. Until I went to Skittles.com
God only knows what will happen with this post if I tag it “Skittles”.
After careful consideration (on the King streetcar from Yonge St to Peter St) I think that this is definitely an intriguing experiment. If it goes right, then Skittles gets a huge boost in publicity (which it has clearly done already) and a cheap/free “corporate” Web site that costs them barely anything to maintain and that frees them from any sort of complex Content Management System which is probably reason for many communications professionals to recommend this tactic to their bosses.
However, there are some drawbacks, as far as I could tell:
2. Exclusive; not inclusive. Because Skittles has no control over what goes on its home page, and on some of the subsequent pages, you must be over 18 to view the site. For Skittles I would imagine this is a major disadvantage.
3. WTF? Some people have no idea what Twitter is, let alone what search.twitter.com is and could be instantly put off by the page. You need to retain some aura of authority and credibility. Just because talking-heads-on-TV’s have their researchers feeding them lines about the Internet fad du jour, doesn’t mean people know or trust the medium yet. (Just to remind you, I am short on Twitter 🙂 )
4. It isn’t original. AdFreak has an interesting post on how the idea of an un-site was stolen from Modernista. I would say that the Skittles execution is actually far better, but if you’re going to be clever and cool and innovative, you may as well be original as well. Also interesting is the vitriol for agency.com in the comments. It seems that the community has not forgiven them for the “if we roll, we roll big” video on YouTube. [DISCLAIMER: Veritas, my employer has SUBWAY as a client]
Font of all knowledge
I asked Twiter what it thought of the new site:
Here are the answers:
I’m still torn but I think that overall I’m leaning towards the intriguing experiment side of things. As marketers, we cannot lambast brands for trying new things, especially in a channel that is still so nascent. No one knows all the rules apart from the fact that the rules change every time you want to play. Trying to play it safe is the riskiest play of all right now.