Posted At: April 2, 2012 2:30 PM
by Mariah Fairweather
When you Google Skittles, you may expect to see the iconic red bag full of the bright, fruit-flavored candy to show up or maybe the
newest slogan “Experience the Rainbow”. Instead, if you Google Skittles today, you will most likely see headlines of death and injustice.
On Feb. 26, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was walking down the streets of a gated community in Sanford, Fla., when the neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, shot Martin. Zimmerman claimed self-defense in Martin’s death, but the only items found on Martin were a bag of Skittles and a can of Arizona Iced Tea.
The Skittles brand has gone from the innocent “Experience the Rainbow” brand to being used as a sign of injustice, wrongful death and even murder.
Over the past several weeks after Martin’s death, Skittles has been in the spotlight of the protests. Facebook users are posting pictures in hoodies using Skittles as a gun, and taping Skittles bags to their mouths to symbolize silence from law enforcement. Skittles has
been making appearances at the protests, piled into makeshift memorials and even sold to raise money for the Martin family.
Skittles has a sudden popularity due to this tragedy leading to an increase in profits. Questions have been raised asking what Skittl
es will do with the profit. Will it donate to the Martin family? Or will it donate money to an organization to help support causes linked to Martin’s death? Or will the company simply capitalize on the tragedy?
Companies are often trained to handle crises, but this case is unique. Stephanie Childs, a former crisis manager for ConAgra Foods, commented in a New York Times article that “the company will take a hit no matter how it handles the situation. If it donates money, people will criticize it for being not enough. If it speaks publicly, people will say [the company is] capitalizing on it.”
Wrigley, Skittles’ parent company, issued a statement: “We are deeply saddened by the news of Trayvon Martin’s death and express our sincere condolences to his family and friends. We also respect their privacy and feel it inappropriate to get involved or comment further as we would never wish for our actions to be perceived as an attempt of commercial gain following this tragedy.”
The call for justice in this situation has been broadcast all over the U.S., leading people to create strong opinions. I think that laying low while the facts in the case are worked out is the right move on Skittles’ part. Once things have been sorted out, Skittles can decide its next move.