- Skittles is kicking off an apology tour targeted at consumers frustrated by the brand's decision to nix its lime-flavored candies in favor of green apple in 2013, per details shared in an email with Marketing Dive. Lime returned as a permanent offering last fall.
- To win back lime fans who remain sour about the move, Skittles is hosting a Twitch livestreamed "press conference" on March 29 at 6 p.m. EST. A teaser video on Instagram shows a man in a business suit rehearsing an emphatic apology, with text overlay noting that more than 130,000 people complained online about the Mars Wrigley brand's decision to ditch lime nine years ago.
- On March 29, Skittles will also take its mea culpa to a billboard in the center of Times Square. Additionally, NASCAR driver Kyle Busch's vehicle will sport Skittles Lime is Back assets for the Cup Series Race from March 25-27, extending the reach of the message to the sports arena.
Notes app apologies and emotional video confessionals have become a common tactic for celebrities and influencers looking to win back outraged fans in the social media age. Skittles is adopting this anti-cancellation strategy to rebuild a bridge with the large number of people who were vocally dismayed at its decision to drop lime from its candies packs in 2013. Lime had been a staple of the brand's Five Fruity Flavors since 1979 and officially reentered the rotation in October 2021.
Skittles' apology tour activates several different media channels, including livestreaming, out-of-home and sports sponsorships. Beyond serving as a mea culpa, the effort could be a way to drive interest and subscriptions to Skittles' Twitch page, where the brand has been more active of late. A recent stream titled "Skittles: The Return" focused on the popular multiplayer game Fortnite. Skittles currently has about 15,000 subscribers on the service.
Other marketers are trying to establish a stronger footprint on Twitch as livestreaming eats up more viewing time. The automaker Honda last week shared details on DreamLab, an experimental Twitch offering that centers on lifestyle content in an attempt to diversify past gaming and esports.
Skittles' call to bring back lime has been largely well-received among fans and the media. An article in Slate that ran around Halloween last year stated that Mars Wrigley had corrected a "grave error." The more substantial marketing push now could build on that buzz.
However, green apple has also developed enough familiarity to have its own supporters. "Im sorry but green apple is so much better," reads a top comment on the Instagram teaser for the Twitch presser. "Green apple was your best flavor and you replaced it with lemon's ugly cousin," another user said.
Other Mars Wrigley brands have leveraged social media trends as a springboard for creative ideas. Audio from an old TV ad for "Berries and Creme" Starburst went viral on TikTok last year, with users replicating the dance of a creepy Little Lad character from the spot. Starburst quickly capitalized on the discussion with a Little Lad Halloween costume and other activations tied to the 15-year-old commercial.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the run date of the Skittles billboard in Times Square based on incorrect information provided to Marketing Dive. The placement goes live starting Tuesday, March 29.