Super Bowl

Trick Play: Skittles Makes a 'Super Bowl Ad' for Only One Person

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Skittles is sitting out the Super Bowl this year, but says it's still making a Super Bowl-worthy ad to show during the game.

It's a trick play, of course. Skittles has cooked up what might be described as the first ultra-exclusive Super Bowl commercial—or else as a clever PR stunt costing far less than a real Super Bowl buy. The spot, complete with a soon-to-be-revealed celebrity, is being screened for only one person: Marcos Menendez, a teenager from Los Angeles.

The unique approach kicks off Tuesday with an online video announcing the plan to create an ad just for Menendez, who we're hoping has been prepped for his few weeks of fame.

"It's not technically a Super Bowl ad if it's not on the Super Bowl," a guy watching a mock newscast announcing the plan says in the video. (And that's right, only national buys that air between the coin toss and the final whistle get credit here at Ad Age.) He goes on to suggest that the CEO of Skittles (not a real job) will get fired over the bit.

"We think of this as a Super Bowl ad, it's just only being shown to one person," says Matt Montei, marketing VP, fruit confections, Mars Wrigley Confectionery.

The gimmick, which is set to include multiple teasers but no TV spots, follows three consecutive Super Bowl appearances for Skittles.

"We've been a big part of the Super Bowl and continue to be a big part of the NFL," Montei says of Skittles. "We really felt like we wanted to continue to reinvent ourselves around this timeframe and one way to do it is to just try a completely new way in."

Skittles is the official candy of the NFL. Mars Wrigley's Snickers, the league's official chocolate, is also sitting out this year's game after its live commercial during Super Bowl LI ("Old West"). As of now, M&Ms is the only Mars Wrigley brand planning to air an actual Super Bowl LII commercial, an ad teased with its own spot last week. But M&Ms clearly isn't the only Mars Wrigley brand trying to generate buzz.

Menendez was chosen because he's a real Skittles fan, says Montei. The 17-year-old is set to see the secret commercial during the Super Bowl, while fans can watch a stream of Menendez's reaction to it on Facebook. Skittles is also planning to release a final documentary-style look at the program, without showing the actual ad, the night of the Super Bowl or the following day.

The effort comes from DDB, which handled Skittles' recent Super Bowl spots.

Four teasers will come out in the next 10 days or so, including one that gives a nod to the real ad, says Montei. The identity of the celebrity appearing in the spot will also be revealed to the public.

Skittles made a third Super Bowl outing in a row with "Romance" in the 2017 game, following "The Portrait" starring Steven Tyler in 2016 and "Settle It" in 2015.

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