Skittles Madness: No wonder parents fear candy insanity
Go ahead, I dare you. Just try to offer your friends’ kids a handful of candy. You’ll get the stink eye from Mom and Dad zip quick. What happened? Kids and candy used to be synonymous. Back in the day any good host offered visiting kids candy. Halloween was considered a high holiday for kids versus the obligation-to-be- endured it has now become. Allowances were pre-destined for the corner store with the best candy counter and all parents did was smile: “Oh little Johnny. How wonderful that something as simple as candy can bring such joy.” Today? Not so much.
Like fast food, soda pop and Yosemite Sam, candy has been almost completely demonized amongst “progressive” parents. “Our Johnny doesn’t like candy” they pronounce, while Junior adopts the facial expression of a kennellized dog. “In our house, we prefer nature’s candy.” Sure you do. Look, the way I see things it’s a crime against humanity to suggest those tasteless little carrot spears could ever be compared to the succulence of sucrose or the glory of glucose. I get that their intent is to save their offspring from attacks of serious disease and a lifetime of obesity but aren’t they also saving them from some of the best parts of being a kid? We’re growing them up too fast if you ask me....
So with parents as squirrley as they already are about candy, why in hell is Skittles running such weirdly warped ads in an attempt to sell more of the stuff?
Have you watched their ads over the last few years? Taken one by one they’re freaky enough but considered as a group they’re almost pure insanity. Honestly, watching these ads makes the idea of downing a handful of Skittles almost as scary as a handful of meth.
The most recent spot stars some time-frozen whack-job who realizes the new blended Skittle flavors he has are so incredibly great that he no longer needs to blend foods of any kind ever again. Accordingly, he takes his blender outside to “set it free.” As he tosses the blender into the air, it tentatively floats around and then flies away. Dude heads back into his home only to be surprised by the sudden return of the blender – which promptly smashes his patio door and begins wreaking havoc inside his house. A Born Free moment quickly becomes a bizarre fight to the death as the weird loner bats helplessly at the blender with a green kitchen broom. Talk about out there. Is this the kind of thing a handful of Skittles does to you? I’m officially frightened now.
But it’s not new. Skittles has been doing this for years. There’s the tree ad – a crazy spot where some kid grows a Skittles tree out of his belly that his mom refuses to correct so she can continue harvesting it. There’s beard guy - a freaky dude whose beard literally feeds Skittles to him. The Tube Sock almost defies explanation it’s so insanely out there. A giant tube sock rubs his feet on carpet so he can continually “shock” an old man’s tongue. They’ve got sheep boys, The Touch Man, giant fists, and on and on. The whole collection is unsettling to say the least.
I love weird ads and I’ll even cop to a pretty twisted sense of humor but these spots even leave a loon like me shaking my head. The ads are strange for sure but also slightly terrifying at the same time. I read one commenter who wondered why all the Skittles spots seem so vaguely terrifying and full of despair. Good question and one I absolutely do not have any answer to.
I understand the need to break out and get noticed in an over-crowed public consciousness but as candy goes I always figured Skittles had a pretty good thing going for what it was. It’s a colorful, solid, fun candy. I’d buy it even without the oddities attached. Could their ad strategy be masking something larger perhaps? Could it be some deep seated need by Skittles Corporate to give the masses a giant middle finger so they can assume the official mantle of rebel forevermore? Maybe, but who knows for sure?
What I do know is that in a world where parents are as freaked about kids and sugar as they are about kids and crystal meth, running ads that appear to have emerged fully formed from Charlie Sheen’s in-head graphic novel have to be a net liability of sorts. Does it really drive sales? It must. Maybe all the negativity toward candy has turned it into a brand new way to rebel against mom and dad. If it is, then I’d say my kids are screwed. When they visit the candy store the line-up starts behind me.