Skittles’ Pending Super Bowl Ad is a Live Broadway Musical

Blog posted on January 14, 2019 AwesomeMarketing

And it will happen before the game kicks off. The off-the-beaten-path marketing continues on the heels of last year’s effort, where they showed an ad to one person.

They did more than that, obviously. There were ads about the ads (so meta) and plenty of buzz about the marketing strategy, including turning Marcos, the kid who everyone watched while he watched the ad (that part’s kinda creepy, and you can re-live it here), into a kind of quasi celebrity.

It also won plenty at Cannes, taking home 10 Lions for DDB. Here’s the Case Study (also, excellent).

Skittles is following this up with… a Broadway musical. Written by a Pulitzer prize winner, performed on the same day as the big game, with $50 000 in ticket sales going to charity. The site claims the 30 minute production will

“Through song and dance, the show takes an absurdly self-reflective look at consumerism and the ever-increasing pervasiveness of brand advertising in our lives.”

As if that weren’t enough, it also promises that music from the event will be available on Spotify (or, buy it on vinyl). This kind of escalation is pretty astonishing to watch, not the least because it’s so non-linear, it’s nigh impossible to predict what they will be doing next. With 30 second slots going for a cool $5 million (Anheuser-Busch bought EIGHT), this kind of approach certainly frees up a bit of financial legroom, and plays straight into the “Brand Experience” trend that seems to be going from fad to marketing staple. The ambition of it is breathtaking in its scope. It’s almost as though they want you to guess what their follow-up will be…

The campaign shows the restraints within which we work are often not quite so restrictive as we think.

It’s a phenomenal example of incorporating buzz (the timing of it is perfect for pre-game hype) into the campaign material itself (DDB are conducting a masterclass in integrated communications at this point). What’s most admirable of this is that the marketing has almost eclipsed the product; a monster come to life to serve its own needs as opposed to a platform to espouse the benefits of fruit flavoured candy. Or perhaps, the memorability of it is so immensely powerful that people are choosing to eat Skittles (not only because they taste great but also) because they like their approach to advertising.

Either way, I’m already looking forward to their 2020 ad, whatever it might be.