2007 Creativity Award Winner: Skittles "Experience the Rainbow" Campaign

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Who says television is dead? TBWA/Chiat/Day/N.Y. turned out a fresh batch of bizarre spots stunners for its Masterfoods candy muse, winning the votes of our esteemed jury. An opera-singing rabbit, a sleazy job searcher with a facial hair appendage, and a mini man who chugs Skittles leaking from the ceiling proved that brilliant ideas are still possible on TV—and on the internet, where the spots have spawned a second life, thanks to YouTube and others of its ilk. The candy once associated with the "Taste the Rainbow" tag is more magical than ever, twisted out and tuned into modern viewers' tastes. And while the storylines seem skewed, they blatantly champion the brand: Skittles—so delicious that you'll regret trading your most valuable posession for them; so wonderful that they can help you (and your serpentine beard) win over a job interviewer. The ceiling leak? OK, well maybe that one's a little obtuse, but hilarious nonetheless.

Q&A with TBWA/Chiat/Day/N.Y. GCD/CW Ian Reichenthal, GCD/AD Scott Vitrone, AD Craig Allen and CW Eric Kallman

Tell us about the origins of each spot.

Craig Allen: When we came up with "Beard" we were thinking of absurd and funny ways that one could eat a Skittle. Once we had the idea of a beard, we decided the intimate one-on-one setting of a job interview would be the most interesting place for a situation involving a beard eating Skittles to play out.

Scott Vitrone: "Trade" came from the idea that no matter what you trade your Skittles for, it's a bad trade. From there, it was a search to find the thing that someone could be convinced to trade their Skittles for. Maybe something that seemed really great at the beginning but then turned out to be not so great.

Ian Reichenthal: Not sure where the idea for the Skittles "Leak" came from. But we figured that if you had an absurd problem in your home, like Skittles leaking from the ceiling, it was only natural that it could only be solved by something equally absurd, like having a small man permanently installed in your ceiling to eat them.

What were the biggest challenges of each?

Eric Kallman: "Beard" is a conceptually simple spot. The biggest challenges were technical, with the team of puppeteers bringing the beard to life.

Reichenthal: The biggest challenge, for both "Trade" and "Leak" was in production and postproduction, making the singing rabbit and the little tiny contractor look believable.

Coming up with these ideas, how do you know when you've gone too far?

Allen: You don't. When you're writing script after script full of silliness and absurdity you really rely on your creative director's opinion. You present a lot of work.

Vitrone: We want Skittles commercials to get noticed. It's our job to do things that other brands, in the candy category and in other categories with the same target, wouldn't do. As long as we respect the product and the viewer, and we're on strategy, there's no risk in going too far. The real risk would be to spend a lot of our clients' money on ads that nobody notices or cares about.

Any thoughts on why these spots have resonated so well with viewers?

Kallman: We hope people find the world that we've created for Skittles to be fun and likable. It isn't overly magical. Rather it's a normal, everyday place where things and situations are just absurd enough to make you smile.

Vitrone: The commercials don't take people's attention for granted. The viewers get some information about the product we're selling, but it's wrapped in a package that we try to make entertaining. If we want our target - especially this target – to listen to our sales pitch, we have to make it worth their while.

What kind of results has this work seen?

Allen: The results have been good for our client as well as the feedback we've received from within the industry.

Any interesting anecdotes/personal favorite moments on the sets of any of these spots?

Kallman: "Beard" is the only shoot we've ever been on where the first few takes were unusable because of the constant laughter coming from the crew. The camera and sound guys who were squeezed into the other side of that small office were turning bright red, trying their best to not laugh during the first five minutes of shooting.

What's next for Skittles?

Allen: Hopefully we can help keep the campaign going strong with work that we as an agency are proud of.

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