Product / ServiceSKITTLES/CANDY
CategoryA10. Best Integrated Content Campaign
EntrantKETCHUM Guangzhou, CHINA
Contributing Company DDB Guangzhou, CHINA
Contributing Company 2 TRIBAL DDB GUANGZHOU, CHINA
Contributing Company 3 SENYING ADVERTISING Guangzhou, CHINA
Entrant Company KETCHUM Guangzhou, CHINA

The Campaign

In China, branded entertainment is increasingly ubiquitous as all manner of brands take advantage of the mass commercialization of media and the blurring of lines between editorial and advertorial content. Brands regularly sponsor TV programs and product placement in TV shows and films is common. In print media, the line between editorial and advertorial is often blurred at best, or invisible. Online, numerous brands are producing mini-films, serials, crowd-sourced advertising and other forms of brand-focused interactive digital content. OOH advertising and branded public events are also extremely common, although the government periodically cracks down on advertisements that promote conspicuous consumption of luxury goods, social stratification or which somehow do not align with the government’s agenda. Any sort of public event or stunt requires approval from multiple authorities, and approval can suddenly be withdrawn if the event coincides with a major political event, a national disaster or any occurrence that the government feels warrants a clampdown on public gatherings. The explosion of branded entertainment in China makes it very hard for brands like Skittles to break through and reach its target audience of teenagers, who rely less on traditional media and more on peer-to-peer communication, including online interaction and real world experience, and who are not brand loyal.


Skittles had been successfully introduced into a fast-growing China candy market. But as that market reached “maturity” Skittles was just one of many competitors vying for the increasingly hard-to-reach Chinese youth segment, who took their cues from peers rather than traditional media. Charged with invigorating the brand, the creative team studied the target demographic and realized it was stressed. Really stressed. China’s youth confessed to feeling daily pressure, from grueling study schedules to life in general. They welcomed escape. If it came with an edge of the absurd or unexpected, all the better. So the agency’s Guangzhou office turned the Skittles Rainbow Hotline loose. Available anytime, anywhere, the Hotline treated callers to random blasts of comedy, with just a touch of anarchy. Our “Summon the Rainbow” campaign leveraged the colorful nature of the product and the unexpected content of the media platform to establish Skittles as the “icon of unpredictability” for a new generation. Two Rainbow Hotline viral videos produced by famous director Hu Ge were posted on social media and microblogs before the official hotline launch event. 20 microblog key opinion leaders were invited to repost the news. 2 “Summon the Rainbow” online mini-events were organized to support the hotline promotion: • Forward the video and you and your friends receive a prize • Tell us what you want to achieve and Skittles will help lucky participants reach their goals through an “unexpected” method. An outdoor teaser event held in a popular Shanghai shopping mall featured comedic telephone booths, Gangnam Style flash mobs, and appearances by the actors from the Rainbow Hotline viral videos. The event was filmed and edited, providing additional viral content for Skittles online video platforms and, and Sina Weibo, China’s highly influential combination of Twitter and Facebook.

The goal was to make Skittles the “icon of unpredictability” for China’s teenagers. The platform was the Skittles Rainbow Hotline, a source for finding and sharing absurd and unexpected humor. The agency drove traffic through humorous viral videos produced by famous director Hu Ge, recruiting 20 key microblog opinion leaders to repost Skittles news, and online mini-events encouraging viewers to forward videos and receive prizes, and the chance to have Skittles help them achieve a personal goal through “unexpected” methods. A branded outdoor event at a Shanghai shopping mall featured comedic telephone booths, Gangnam Style flash mobs, and appearances by actors from the popular Rainbow Hotline videos.

During the performance period from October 7 until November 10, 2012, the campaign recorded 16,108 call-ins, with an average duration of 54.4 seconds. Live broadcast of the event and viral videos resulted in over 80,000 reposts and 13,500 comments on Skittles official Weibo page. 42 Weibo, 24 and 48 KOLs were invited to repost the official video launch post, and 90 articles were posted on the BBS. Traditional Shanghai media attend the events including general media, fashion and lifestyle media, general portal sites, video portal sites and television crews, generating more than 60 stories. Oct. 2012 Nielsen data showed Skittles becoming the #1 brand of chew candy in China with 16.8% national value share, unseating the longtime market leader. During the October/November promotion period, Skittles national value share increased by 17% over the same period the previous year.


Name Company Position
Katie Li Ddb Guangzhou Account Director
William Chang Tribal Ddb Guangzhou Group Creative Director
Isabel Yang Ketchum Account Executive
Crystal Zhong Ketchum Account Executive
Jamie Huang Ketchum Account Supervisor
Joe Tong Ketchum General Manager