Skittles Lets Go

2 March 2009

(re-posted from

The hot topic on the Interwebs today is Skittles. Go to and you'll discover that they've relinquished control of their web site.

There is a navigation tool that floats and lets you navigate between Chatter, Products, Friends, and more. But each of those goes somewhere interesting: Chatter goes to the Twitter Search page for Skittles (which is also the home page), Products takes you to Wikipedia, and Friends takes you to Facebook. In fact, it seems that only Contact Us takes you to an actual Skittles hosted page.

I've read different takes on this all day. I've seen people screaming that the economy isn't that bad and why can't they hire a web designer. I've seen others celebrate the rather, um, ballsy take on a web site. I think I fall somewhere near the middle, leaning more towards ballsy than cheap. I feel like Skittles, in relinquisihing control, has admitted that all of us folks out here on the Web actually have a clue. They've taken listening to the consumer to a whole new level. However, I think there needs to be a little more integration of product in there. I suppose you can get that from the Facebook Fan page, with the apps and such, but really – if I'm going to the Skittles web site, I want more information on Skittles (more branding, perhaps) from the company in conjunction with user-generated content.

This type of approach to a web site may fall into the "all publicity is good publicity" category. It seems to have moved past that, but earlier today, the Skittles twitter search was showing some rather crude comments with #Skittles in the text. It currently is showcasing people talking about the web site and or those who are using the Hash Tag for the fun of showing up on the front page. No one is really chatting about the candy. The Wikipedia page focuses on types of flavors, but doesn't tell you anything really useful about the product. The Facebook Fan page is fun, but again, not useful in a "learn more about the product" kind of way.

The point has been made, repeatedly, that ad agency Modernista did this about a year ago. According to, however, Skittles is the first consumer product to give this a try. Another quote in that AdAge article struck my fancy (emphasis mine):

An spokeswoman said that "Skittles as a brand is all about embracing and empowering the conversation online — just look at the YouTube entries and their Facebook page. Its kind of a natural evolution for them moving in to something like this."

Now, is that how you think of Skittles? When I think of Skittles, I think of candy that is chewy and turns my tongue colors. I like Skittles' approach, but I wonder, would it be more effective if they scaled it back a little and still retained of bit of their own content?
What are your thoughts on the new Skittles site?

Find Michelle Lentz here on Write Technology,, Twitter, and FriendFeed

 | Posted by | Categories: Marketing |


17 April 2008

In our current [to use a buzz phrase] new media landscape, industries are overlapping. I increasingly see overlaps between marketing and learning. I find myself doing more than just dipping a toe in the marketing pool anymore, as use of social media tends to encourage a full dunk.

So I was happy to see it works both ways. I was reading Digital Next, an Ad Age blog, when I came across a post on "Unlearning" that I think is something we should consider in the Learning field.

The writer was watching his 4 year seamlessly adapt to using a Wii controller. When his mother tried it, however, she was unable to adapt.

And then it dawned on me. The technology itself isn’t difficult to
understand. In fact, Nintendo makes it painfully obvious that they
intend to casualize the console. There is very little to retain when
using a Wii. What is difficult, is the "unlearning" process. In fact
I’d argue that "unlearning" is far more cumbersome than "learning."
Through the eyes of my mom, I’ve handed her a remote control — one
that looks very similar to the same remote she may have at her house
that she uses to change the channels on her television. Her use of a TV
remote is a learned, patterned behavior, unbreakable and obviously
indistinguishable from a product of similar form factor.

The Learning industry is facing something similar. What happens when the digital natives outnumber others in our companies? Many people will need to unlearn a lot of how we do things – how we approach things.

Right now, it’s all still new enough that we sort of let it go when our attempt at integrating new media fails. For instance, I am part of a small charity committee. After our first benefit was over, I lost patience with the amazing amount of email and attachments flying back and forth. No one ever knew if they had the latest version of a document and keeping up with the changes in emails was next to impossible. So I created a wiki.

For over a month, I’ve been pushing the wiki. Posting on the wiki. Adding attachments to the wiki. Then at a meeting last night, one girl says, "I don’t like the wiki." Why? "I’m just not happy with it. It’s easier to use email."
Translation: I know how to use email and see no reason to add a new behaviour or admit there might be a better, newer solution.

Sigh. She’s only 30. But it proved to me that age is not a defining factor in adapting technology. This particular girl is highly intelligent and highly organized. But she relies on paper, binders, and email. This works for her the way a chalkboard works for an older college professor. Why put the notes on Blackboard LMS when the chalkboard works just fine?  Why change what works?

We all have habits we hang onto. I just really believe that in the next few years we will all need to adapt or be left behind. We’ll need to unlearn if we want to participate. We can’t be afraid to unlearn. So the question becomes, how do we cope with those who don’t want to participate? The girl who refuses to use the wiki?

 | Posted by | Categories: Marketing, Training, Web 2.0, Weblogs |

Who Am I? A 30-Second Advert

13 February 2008

My friend Rob Bunting has been after me to develop a "30-second commercial" for myself. In other words, how can I concisely and effectively describe what I do?

How do I identify myself? Blogger, instructional designer, Web 2.0 consultant

What do I have to offer?
Experience, love/understanding of technology

What can I do? See where in your organization Web 2.0 technologies might make a difference. In particular, in learning/training and internal communications.

Okay, so that gives me a starting point. Here goes:

Hi! I’m Michelle. I’m a blogger, an instructional designer, and a Web 2.0 consultant. I’ve been in the learning field for over 10 years. My experience, combined with my technical knowledge, put me in a unique place to help companies strategically implement Web 2.0 technologies for learning, marketing, and improved internal communications.

I’m attending an AMA Word of Mouth marketing group today on using LinkedIn. Maybe I’ll try out the new advert.

 | Posted by | Categories: Marketing, Web 2.0 |