Product / ServiceSKITTLES/CANDY
CategoryB01. Consumer Products
EntrantKETCHUM Guangzhou, CHINA
PR Agency KETCHUM Guangzhou, CHINA
Entrant Company KETCHUM Guangzhou, CHINA

The Campaign

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 notoriously hard to reach Chinese youth segment. Charged with re-launching and 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. The “Summon the Rainbow” campaign leveraged the notoriously colorful nature of the product. From pre-launch viral videos, to a launch party at a popular Shanghai shopping mall, the campaign was designed to drive word-of-mouth, the most credible source among young Chinese. And we kept word-of-mouth going, through social platforms that encouraged consumers to share the surprises they found on the Rainbow Hotline and supporting websites, above and beyond the promotion period. Thousands of youth called the hotline. Thousands more visited the website. Ninety articles were posted on the official BBS and more than 60 stories appeared in traditional Shanghai media. Young people were smiling, and talking, and spreading Skittles around. Skittles had become their icon of fun and unpredictability, and antidote to stress. And in October 2012, Skittles officially became the #1 brand of chewy candy in China.

The Brief

Make Skittles an icon of fun and unpredictability to resonate with youth. The campaign needed to ignite Skittles’ popularity with youth, as well as drive brand website traffic, inspire interaction and create relevant and spontaneous brand dialogue that underscored its brand positioning as an “icon of unpredictability.” First we needed to discover what’s really on our target’s mind. How could we relate to them in a compelling and memorable way, and authentically become an integral part of their lives? The initiative needed to build on Skittles’ advertising platform of “infinite taste of fun and flavors,” yet launch an entirely new promotional vehicle capable of attracting – and surprising - Chinese youth.


A colorful response that fit the brand perfectly. 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. Forty-two 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 attended the events including general media, fashion and lifestyle media, general portal sites, video portal sites and television crews, generating more than 60 media stories. Oct. 2012 Nielsen data ranked Skittles as the #1 brand of chewy candy in China with 16.8% national value share. During the October/November promotion period, Skittles national value share increased by 17% over the same period the previous year.


Yes, we’re talking to you. Two Rainbow Hotline viral videos were posted on social media and micro blogs before the official launch of the hotline. Twenty key micro-blog opinion leaders were invited to repost the news. Youth were encouraged to personally engage in the promotion of the hotline: • “Forward the video and you and your friends will receive a prize.” • “Tell us what you want to achieve in life and Skittles will help some lucky participants reach their goals through an “unexpected” method.” An outdoor teaser event was also held in Shanghai featuring comedic telephone booths, Gangnam Style flash mobs, and appearances by actors and actresses from Rainbow Hotline viral videos produced by famous director Hu Ge. 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 Situation

Youthful demographic requires colorful and edgy approach. Facing slow growth in a suddenly crowded market, Skittles summoned the agency to create and publicize a campaign that would attract, engage and ignite brand dialogue among the target demographic. That demographic, Chinese youth 13 to 18, was notoriously hard to reach, overwhelmed by the clutter of competing products, resistant to product claims, and trusting peer word-of-mouth over conventional media sources.

The Strategy

Plan on the unexpected. We gave Chinese youth the release they were looking for. Even if they didn’t know they were looking for it. A video teaser campaign patterned on a new movie launch would get the viral demographic moving. An experiential device - a phone system dispensing interactive comedy – would start the conversation. A physical launch at a high-profile Shanghai shopping mall would grab attention. And digital platforms would help drive word of mouth. Funny, colorful and unprecedented “Summon the Rainbow” would be impossible to ignore.


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