- Skittles, the fruit candy marketed by Mars, this week started urging Instagram users to take part in its #DareTheRainbow Challenge as part of its Halloween promotion for Zombie Skittles. Each package of Zombie Skittles has a disguised piece of candy with a repulsive flavor known as "rotten zombie," per an announcement.
- Skittles is urging fans to get together with their friends while eating Zombie Skittles, and to post pictures or videos of the experience to its @skittles account on Instagram, along the #DareTheRainbow hashtag.
- Mars is selling Zombie Skittles at major retailers across the U.S. in packages ranging from "share size" to "fun size bag." Its fruity Halloween flavors include Petrifying Citrus Punch, Mummified Melon, Boogeyman Blackberry, Chilling Black Cherry and Blood Red Berry.
Skittles' #DareTheRainbow Challenge aims to grab a viral following on Instagram — pointing to the platform's growing importance for marketers — in the same way that videos of the Jelly Belly's BeanBoozled Challenge have racked up millions of views on YouTube as consumers sample regular jelly bean flavors and occasionally get a revolting flavor like Spoiled Milk or Dead Fish. Challenges such as these have the potential to engage consumers with entertaining content while driving earned media.
In an era when consumers' viewing habits are gravitating towards their phones — with mobile expected to surpass TV in entertainment minutes this year — watching people react with disgust to repulsive candy flavors has become a form of entertainment. While mobile video ad spending is growing in tandem with the increase in consumption, mobile combined with social lends itself to user-generated video pushes such as Skittles' #DareTheRainbow Challenge.
Skittles parent Mars has been active this year with social media promotions. The confectioner this week launched its first micro-gifting campaign for its Snickers candy bar that includes custom videos on YouTube. Its "Big Mood" program charges users $1.65 to send a personalized message and a gift card that's redeemable for a Snickers bar at any Walmart store. For Valentine's Day, the brand supported the launch of Creamy Snickers with a campaign that urged Twitter users to "smooth over" their holiday "nomance" gaffes.
Challenges like the Skittles' #DareTheRainbow effort have become a popular way to generate viral publicity, as exemplified by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that urged people to dump ice-cold buckets of water over their heads before passing on the challenge to others. Busch, JetBlue, Saucony, T.J. Maxx and the Calgary Stampede rodeo this year have run contests on social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram that encourage viral growth.