Explain This: Does Skittles campaign tell us the ad industry is out of touch when it comes to social media?

I was asked to write for The Wall months ago but never know what to write about. But it struck me yesterday… why not use The Wall (and it’s smart readers) to answer questions I can’t fathom. There’s a few things I see that makes me think “Huh?” and I always wonder if others feel the same.

So I’ve got a question I need your help with. Its this technique from TBWA/London for the Skittles campaign that broke yesterday.

Explain This To Me…. Why does Dazzle The Rainbow need access to my Facebook credentials to watch a video?

There’s a funny video of a man in a box getting Skittles pouured on his head. Sounds pretty stupid. I need to see it. There’s a few links on Twitter, so I open facebook.com/skittles.uk and click on the play button. But this happens….

Why on earth does Facebook need access to my networks, user id and list of friends? I’m not doing it. I immediately close it. I really don’t like it.

But then I read this from James Cooper – Creative Director for Saatchi NY.

Are we ‘out of touch’ or  just more aware of the techniques agencies and brands use on social networks. Why do I feel so weird about this, when 1.3m people out there are happy to just get stuck in?

I’m not just having a go at anyone here. We’re all in this together.

Nike used a similar technique for their Write The Future campaign on Facebook. You had to ‘Like’ the page before you could watch the video. How can I Like something I’ve not seen? Did you willingly hand over your details?

But what does it mean if we’re not willing to engage in the practices we’re exposing others to?

Can anyone help me un-jumble my thoughts?

Would love to get your views / comments below…

I’ve also got my own blog which has all sorts of stuff on it.

  • Ron Heywood

    You don’t have to like it – Facebook’s “hidden content” is only hidden using a css visibility rule – You can use firebug and tweak the css to display it.

  • http://www.thebookofrevelations.co.uk Tom Callard

    Interesting. I agree- its weird! Buying ‘likes’ strikes me as short-sighted, risky and generally just a bit grubby.

    The fact that so many are willing to do it does suggest normal people don’t have a problem with it. I would like to think we are just a bit ahead of the curve as an industry, and can see that a Facebook where every like has been bought or blackmailed out of people loses a lot of its value as brands become too indistinguishable from people. On a human level it seems fine to click like and see a video, but when thinking on a community level (as we are apt to), it begins to seem harmful and a disruption of the Facebook community.


  • http://www.thesocialnexus.com George Cathcart

    When I clicked like, and came across the request for information I almost resisted, but eventually gave way.

    I think it is naive of people to think that they can avoid having data gathered about them in todays social web. I know that my data is plastered all over databases across the world courtesy of Facebook already, so is one more like really going to affect me?

    As people become more savvy, they will selectively share their information. I know that as an early adopter of Facebook, they pretty much have a shed load of info on me already, even though I have since taken a fair whack of it off my profile. That is the price of social networking, and really it’s not that high a price to pay. More modern adopters will be more aware of the facts, and might not give up as much info as the early ones did, but there will always be a certain amount that people don’t mind sharing.

    Lets say, for arguments sake, that the user data that is tied to my digital signature gets put into an advanced CRM /SCRM system, and gives brands the opportunity to approach me with products that actually genuinely would be of interest to me.

    Wouldn’t this selective advertising/product placement be a whole lot better than the superfluous BS that I get normally. Targeted advertising is the way forward, and platforms like FB give these systems the data with which to develop and function.

    In essence I’d sooner give my user data up to avoid annoying adverts than I would lock it up under armed guard and endure the crap that I get on a daily basis.

  • http://www.nowincolour.com Andy

    The etiquette around these things is of course still in its infancy.

    It’s like someone’s just invented the ‘house party’ (sort of) and everyone’s trying to work out if it’s ok to hit on each other’s wives or shit in the salad bowl (in a way).

    Silliness aside, the negative aspect of this experimentation is that empathy and common sense get sidelined in favour of exploiting ‘opportunities’ to create a powerpoint deck that says Xm people were successfully forced to pretend to like your marketing.

    I personally really resented the Nike thing. Actually, it was worse than you said: they made users ‘like’ Nike Football (as a whole) before they could watch the ad.

    I’m sure we haven’t seen the worst of it yet.

    Wow, I’m moody. Must be lunch time.

  • Stuart Aplin

    To be honest, this is probably more to do with someone in Skittles putting more value on ‘likes’ (and the various other often counterproductive metrics that we’re targeted on) than on the engagement and participation that these social / community campaigns are supposed to produce.
    That said, a lot of us probably forget that by simply working in the industry we are naturally more aware (and therefore wary) of the amount of data about us that’s available online and the ease with which some less than respectable companies can access that data and use it against us.
    I’d say that the 1.3m : 1 ratio says more about James Cooper’s FB friends v the Skittles target demographic than any real out-of-touchness we have as an industry…

  • http://www.duchessofgrange.co.uk Nathaniel

    There has certainly been a shift in what people are prepared to share and I’m not sure that it is an industry thing; much more likely a generation thing.
    Consumers that have grown up with facebook and myspace before it are used to sharing not only their contact details, interests and intimate thoughts. Things that used to be considered sacrosanct are now becoming public conversations.
    My personal opinion is that this shift has been happening for quite a while, certainly before social media exploded, the media have poured over celebrities actions and thoughts for quite some time. The rise of reality TV shows then turned the spot light on the general public and social media now allows anyone to stand on the soap box in front of a potentially large audience.
    ….I know I’ve rambled but what I was getting at is that not only are people becoming used to sharing but they are actively seeking opportunities to do so. When your mind set is that way out little things like letting Skittles have your personal information become second nature.
    Be interested to know what you thought Andy?

  • sermad

    Actually it is down to how Facebook is architected.

    The creative needed the Facebook user id to track your participation and the only way to access this data is by requesting ‘basic’ permissions.

    These ‘basic’ permissions carry friends lists and other things which would give most of us a second thought. So Facebook really needs to revisit this way of working.

    Ask most 15 year olds if they would have a problem giving up this small amount of information to be entertained. I would hazard a guess they wouldn’t.

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  • Andy Kinsella

    Interesting replies. Thanks for the insight into the campaign Sermad. I suppose it doesn’t help that I just don’t trust Facebook as a platform. Probably read too much stuff like this:

    Facebook breaks its own privacy rules, allowing apps to share users’ personal info.

  • http://weirandwong.com Robin

    @sermad, I don’t doubt what you say about the younger generation readily handing over their details, but I would hazard a guess that this is purely their inexperience in the digital world and the relative lack of value they place on this information.

    Clearly it’s a lack of social etiquette that the devs have employed at facebook. It’s just like those terrible campaign sites that asked you divulge all your personal information before even giving you a snifter of what was to come in the experience. You’d walk away by the 2nd form of data you had to enter and the drop-off rate would be precipitous.

    To liken this to a real-world situation, it’s a bit like walking down the street, getting stopped by a stranger who likes sort of familiar, who starts asking for all your information before they even start telling you who they are or what you’re doing with your private information. You’d tell them to F-off.

    Yet, still you see myopic developers and marketing folk trying to capture every piece of data they can in an aggressive opt-out fashion.

  • http://trendplanner.com Matt

    Not that it changes your point,but it might be worth nothing that the 1.3 million likes was for the skittles fan page not just the current campaign.

    The Page had at least 1.3 million likes before the campaign was launched. I’m sure the page has gained more likes since the campaign but it will be no where near 1.3 million.

  • http://eynsforddesign.com Lauren Morris

    I had exactly the same reaction as you when someone sent it to me this morning.

    I think that as we grow older, us Generation Milleniums are seeing the downsides of sharing information a lot more. For instance, anyone looking for a job or a serious relationship has to consider their privacy and sharing on Social Networking platforms.

    However, there are the next generation still trying to befriend as many people as possible and hold little care for who or what is scanning their Facebook.


  • Ed

    What Matt said.

    As he rightly points out, the page is a general Skittles page and the 1.3 million ‘Likes’ is no reflection on the success (or failure) of the campaign.

    In fact, when you look at the number of ‘Likes’ the video stream has garnered (thanks for the Firebug hack tip, @Ron) it’s a measly 723 Likes (at the time of my comment). Of course, this is not a tally of total viewers – it’s undoubtedly a lot more than this – but if 1.3 million people are willing to show their support for the skittle page, 723 is a pretty pitiful number of ‘Likes’ for this ‘cool’ campaign.

    Still think the industry is out of touch? I would argue that this actually reinforces the opposition to this tactic of engaging FB users. Assuming that ALL their FB ‘fans’ watched the feed, and assuming that 723 was the total number of viewers, that’s an engagement of just 0.05% – yes, that bad.

    Okay, so that’s hardly a realistic viewing total. But if we assume that 1 out of 50 viewers ‘Liked’ the video stream, that’s still just 36,150 viewers. 2.5% of their fanbase.

    And as @sermad rightly points out, that’s probably mostly 15 year-olds who don’t really care about giving away the limited information. I’m sure another 10,000 people did as Andy Kinsella did. Either way, FB needs to get their act together. They need to stop alienating their users and start helping the ad industry make engagement fun, not invasive.

  • Nick

    I ‘liked’ your blog……

  • http://www.twitter.com/koningwoning koningwoning

    Well……. I’d say that this kind of articles: are debet to this situation.
    Basically you could think: if I make something cool… and show this to people for who this is made…. then they will press the like button. Especially if I have done this multiple times.

    The problem is that most marketers are scared, most ad/media agency people want things measurable to campaigns and thus all parties related have become frankenstein.

    On the other hand Andy, the ad world has been throwing so much shit on top of people for so long- now at least people have the choice to say Yea or Nea – as crappy as it may seem: it’s a step ahead of what it used to be.

    P.s. with 330 mio people in the US and EU being on Facebook I think 1,3 mio isn’t that much.
    However given the fact that Mr Cooper probably is near 40 (by his LinkedIn profile) I’d say that the fact that he has 1 friend who does like Skittles is more to WOW about.

  • http://www.twitter.com/koningwoning koningwoning

    And one last thing…. I wonder what the goal of this campaign was for Skittles… to get as much people to like them on FB, or to have a meaningfull (user initiated) contact with their TA?
    If the last, then this is plain right going against what they want most of all….

  • http://www.twitter.com/koningwoning koningwoning
  • Chris Arnold

    I am in the industry. I am also wary of ‘liking’ before I’ve experienced. I don’t really know what they do with ‘data’ on me, about me. Should I care more? Probably yes.

    What I do know is I could murder a bag of skittles right now. So in some small way the ‘communication’ is working ‘cos if we’re not involved with it we’re often talking about it.

  • dave

    I love the fact that a facebook like button was underneath this piece. I did like it, but why am I asked to tell everyone I liked a bloody article? It’s facebook tourettes.

  • http://www.sermad.com sermad

    Really interesting why some people here associate ‘likes’ with engagement. I believe this is a highly flawed metric.

    If you read the comments on the wall, some fans openly admitted they spent hours watching the feed.

  • http://www.thesocialnexus.com George Cathcart

    @sermad out of interest, what would be a good metric for facebook engagement? a quantifiable one, at least.

    What I’m getting at is that it is perhaps the best metric available. Even if you can’t classify every ‘like’ as an engagement event, you could probably work out what % of ‘likes’ denotes actual engagement. if 40% of likes is engagement, then it’s still a good metric to use.

    I probably stayed for 2 skittle drops, and then surfed off to do some work. I never purchase candy as it is, but now we’re all talking about it I really really want some skittles.

    You could argue that I didn’t ‘engage’ but the campaign certainly made an impression on me.

  • http://www.twitter.com/koningwoning koningwoning

    Where’s Andy Kinsella in this discussion – if you want to know a rule of thumb: Social Media (including blogs… I was not talking about social networks) is about interaction. That means two way ‘conversations’.

    I get the feeling we’re being duped here into thinking that someone gives a hoot about this – while he’s not even interested enough to react to what people say on the topic. #fail!

  • Andy Kinsella

    Eric, I’m watching and reading very carefully, don’t worry..

  • Ed

    @sermad – is it not more about the need to give the campaign access to your FB info, than the ‘likes’ themselves? I would definitely associate that with limiting the engagement from we cynical few.

    In terms of direct (commenting) engagement, it seemed that most of the people commenting on the video were those 15 year-olds you mentioned. The rest of us, as per usual, consumed from a distance.

    So what quantifies as a successful campaign in this instance? ‘Engagement’, sales or just brand awareness (getting people talking)?

    For me, the main point of this whole discussion is – are the privacy issues on the FB platform having a negative impact on ad campaigns that are supposed to be fun and engaging? In the past this kind of campaign would have run on a completely open microsite; but now that we’re building campaigns into FB where we’re (or rather they are) asking people to share info, it begs the question – is this platform actually more effective?

  • http://www.twitter.com/martinbailie martin bailie

    To enter the competition for a ‘super massive giveaway’ you have to ‘like’ too. It’s almost as if mechanics like this tell a participant that the brand cares more about reaching your friends than they do about you. This is good ol’ FMCG reach via friends of friends, rather than relationship building with fans. Their KPI is reach, clearly.

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  • http://www.mdurwin.com Michael Durwin

    From the Social Media Law conference I spoke at last week I picked up the fact that legally, you can’t require a consumer to Like your page, before letting them see the “viral” work you promised them. It is tantamount to requiring them to purchase your product to enter a Sweepstakes. You have to allow anyone to write into the sweepstakes without making the purchase. So, in these instances, both Nike and Skittle would need to offer that content regardless of whether you Liked their page.
    Beyond the legal ramifications, why require someone to like your page? Further more, how can the like it without seeing it? If they don’t see it, how do they know they don’t like it, if they don’t like it how can they Like it?
    I’m guessing that many more users visited the page and opted not to Like it than actually did, a lose of engagement on both brands’ sides.
    They should have left it open to the public and found better ways to engage.

  • http://www.moolollybar.com.au/ Spencer

    One thing the Skittles strategy has done is got loads of people talking about it on Social Media and blogs so I guess in that respect it has done tremendously well.