Marketing Matters: Good Judgement Sweetens Potential Controversy for Two Popular Candy Brands

opinionThe following is a guest contributed post by Amit Avner, CEO and Founder of Taykey.

With the 2016 Presidential Election less than 1 month away, there have been a number of unpredictable trends resulting from this unorthodox election cycle. Two of these trends revolved around candies – Skittles and Tic Tac – who were unknowingly dragged into a negative political trend.

Donald Trump Jr. tweeted the now infamous image that compared Syrian refugees to a bowl of Skittles, stating that if three would kill you would you take a handful? While there were a number of ways Skittles could respond to a wildly controversial post, ranging from a non-response to an ill-timed self-promotional tweet, Skittles chose a strategic, and more importantly, an authentic response:

First and foremost, Skittles gave the reins to its parent company, Mars, who distanced themselves from the controversy with one straightforward message. Second, Skittles’ messaging and proactive approach to this indisputably negative trend demonstrated their adeptness at maintaining the authenticity needed in a world of increasingly social consumers.

If Skittles abstained from the conversation, they would likely have emerged scott-free. However, by addressing this negative trend proactively, the large volume of social conversation around the controversy actually served to strengthen their brand. In doing so, the sentiment surrounding Skittles was ultimately, positive throughout this entire exchange–perhaps serving as a future lesson to other brands (re: Tic Tac).

Nearly two-weeks after the Skittles trend, Tic Tac found itself in a similar sticky situation when a video of Donald Trump was released in which he bragged about sexually harassing women, but not without having a Tic Tac first.

While this clearly negative trend dragged the brand into the mix, it differed from the Skittles controversy in sheer volume size – everyone was talking, tweeting, and reporting on Trump’s video. According to our data, the peak in Tic Tac’s conversation volume was nearly twice that of Skittles.


In fact, the discussion surrounding Tic Tac was so pervasive that our data reports a huge negative shift in sentiment for the brand which lasted several days after the video was released. Not only did sentiment shift for Tic Tac, but their online audience expanded well beyond their core demographic of 13-24 during the controversy.


In order to distance their brand from Trump’s remarks, Tic Tac released a clear statement via twitter:


In Tic Tac’s case, the shift in sentiment was apparent within 24 hours after this tweet was released. From October 9th to October 12th, there was a spike in positive sentiment and a large decrease in negative discussion surrounding Tic Tac. Again, the company’s successful approach – perhaps learned from Skittles – was to disengage with the trend by communicating  in a proactive, direct, and authentic manner. As we can see, the sentiment around Tic Tac and Skittles are much more positive than both Trump and Clinton, further demonstrating the success these brands had at distancing themselves from a controversial political downfall.


For more real-time political trends, check out our Trend Pulse tool, which will feature a page dedicated to political data throughout this election cycle.