Trump Jr. Tastes the Rainbow
Published on September 30, 2016, at 4:10 p.m.
By Ashley Stults
As if this election season hasn’t been enough of a train wreck, Donald Trump Jr. recently added to the chaos when he tweeted a picture of a bowl of Skittles with the words “If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful? That’s our Syrian refugee problem.” Mars Inc., the manufacturer of Skittles, fired back with a tweet, “Skittles are candy; refugees are people. It’s an inappropriate analogy. We respectfully refrain from further comment, as that could be misinterpreted as marketing.” Mars’ response was perfectly timed, classy and to the point. Every PR practitioner — and Trump Jr. — should take note of how perfectly Mars handled this situation.
Short and sweet
Mars’ tweet was purposely crafted in such a way that left little room for misinterpretation. The statement said everything it needed to say, in easy-to-read sentences. Another advantage to this message is that people could quickly read it as they scrolled through their timelines on social media. Wordy statements often get scrolled past, but this response received more than 5,000 retweets and 7,000 likes.
The statement made by Mars added a human element to the company. It would have been easy for Mars to let the offending tweet go or maybe even make a joke about it. Instead, it chose to address the initial tweet head on, which in turn secured respect from consumers. It should also be noted that the response came from Mars’ Twitter account and not Skittles’, which tends to be a more lighthearted account. Mars chose to post on its serious account because this was a serious issue the company felt needed attention. Many companies would have been quick to turn this situation into a marketing moment, but Mars chose to focus on the bigger picture.
Mars was quick to compose a response, which helped it get in front of the conversation. The timeliness and appropriateness of the message only increased Skittles’ popularity. While it would have been easy to jump the gun and craft an emotional response, Mars chose to wait a little over five hours before responding. This delay allowed the company time to process Trump Jr.’s tweet and think through how to properly react. Five hours was still a short enough timeframe that when Mars replied, the original issue was still on everyone’s mind.
In the heat of the moment, it’s easy for people and companies alike to act instantly. Mars showed immense class when it chose to take the high road. Trump Jr.’s controversial tweet spread like wildfire but Mars’ tweet was the ultimate response that generated positive publicity for the company.