“Don’t be fooled by the talk in the ad industry: it is as deeply conservative as accounting.” –Brian Morrissey
Apparently, people in some far off land where gravity is not king, are upset about the new Skittles Web site. I’ll be honest, I haven’t read any of the source material. I made some comments on Twitter about how the site is a direct lift from Modernista!, and left it at that. Shawn also took note of the site on AdPulp the other day.
Now, Morrissey is saying we’re all as stiff as an accountant in March?

Skittlesgate reveals the underbelly of the advertising industry. It revels in failures, real and imagined. (I don’t think you can plausibly say has failed.) It loves nothing more than tearing others apart. This is not just a traditional advertising phenomenon. That would be amusing if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s corrosive to innovation. The way forward in reaching consumers in innovative, effective ways through digital media is trial and error. Is perfect? Far from it. Is it an attempt to do something very different? Yes, it is.

Skittlesgate? This is sounding like a joke, and I respect Morrissey’s work.
One thing Skittles did not fail to do is create buzz around the brand. I’d like to see receipts from the nation’s movie theaters and the convenience stores this weekend to determine how well this is playing among actual candy consumers–candy consumers who clearly have never heard of Modernista! or

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. I think one of the important questions is did Skittles create buzz around the brand for the average consumer or just for ad folks who are talking about it?

  2. David,
    Yes, Skittlesgate is a joke. I can’t stand how any controversy gets the -gate suffix. Maybe it will catch on — never know.
    My post tried to take a different look at this to-do. It’s about how the tone of the industry conversation turned quickly to rooting for it to “fail.” It’s something I’ve noticed other times when it comes to agencies trying to do new things to reach consumers. I have no clue if will succeed. For the cost, which I know was a pittance, I can’t see how it didn’t succeed if the brief was building fun conversation around the candy. What I’m wondering is whether this knee-jerk urge to root for the failure inhibits innovation. To me, that’s conservatism — or maybe I should have said “reactionary.”

  3. Thanks for the clarification, Brian.
    When it comes to rooting for a campaign’s failure, I guess I don’t relate.

  4. Couldn’t one argue that Skittles actually built its success via traditional advertising? And highly non-conservative to boot. The TV spots have always been bizarre and usually hilarious.
    Don’t know enough about the website. But at first blush, it didn’t match in digital space standards what the brand has done in traditional space standards, if that makes sense.