Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Afternoon Report, March 3, 2009

This information, called The Afternoon Report, is provided by a daily email blast from the publicity firm of Boneau Bryan-Brown, which maintains this blog. This feature doesn't run daily but whenever The Afternoon Report seems to point out articles of interest.

What’s Next After Skittles.com?

Quite a bit of buzz has popped up around the new Skittles.com over the weekend and today. If you haven't seen the site, it's based on leveraging different social-media sites linked together by a very simple menu navigation that floats on any of the sites. For example, the home page and "chatter" section is the brand's Twitter page, the video media page is the brand's YouTube page, the video images page is the brand's Flickr stream, and the "friends" section is the Facebook fan-page profile. This is almost certainly inspired by Modernista's brilliant redesign from about a year ago. Does that matter? Definitely not. Modernista had it right then and now Skittles does too. Skittles has unabashedly made the bold leap into accepting they can't control the way their brand is defined in today's social web and can only try their best to participate in the conversation. They're taking the good with the bad, and I can assure you all that good is going to dramatically outweigh the bad. If you want an easy indicator of how this site does, check out the number of Facebook friends it already has in place (an impressive 582,604 at the time of this post). Other measurements, such as the number of comments it has on its YouTube videos and images, and general comments and sentiments can also be helpful indicators, but I think the Facebook figure serves at the simplest indicator for most casual observers.
So I went to the Skittles.com website and all of the aforementioned is true (not that you needed me to tell you that). More to the point, it's very interesting -- the ability and/or willingness of a long-established brand to accept and think about how to capitalize on the way social networking will essentially strip a product of full control of its brand identity and market positioning is daring and may, in the end, be incredibly prescient. Of course, the product has to remain desirable and full of intrinsic value, too. Perhaps the strength of social networking is that it will help the brand learn how to maintain that value -- a new area for the free market to work (which it can, given the right conditions).

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