What to Do When a Brand Gets Pulled Into Controversy?

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Two candy brands inadvertently were pulled into the messy world of politics this presidential election, and in both cases it was due to a man named Donald Trump.

For Skittles, the fruit-flavored candies were used in an awkward analogy tweeted on Sept. 19 by Donald Trump Jr., the son of the Republican presidential candidate, that included a bowl of the bright colored candy next to the question, "If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful? That's our Syrian refugee problem."

Tic Tacs, another hard-shell-coated candy, started trending on Twitter Oct. 7 after a video from 2005 surfaced in which Donald Trump, the presidential candidate, could be heard saying, "I've got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her," to Access Hollywood host Billy Bush.

In both cases, the brands found that there was plenty of social buzz around their candy, but not the kind of buzz they would seek. As the Access Hollywood video circulated, David M. Perry, tweeting as @Lollardfish, posted "Somewhere in a lounge at the Candy Convention, the Tic Tac and Skittles PR reps are getting very drunk together."

And Daniel Radosh (@danielradosh) tweeted, "Tic Tac headquarters def getting a sympathy card from Skittles tomorrow."

Skittles was lauded for its response when Denise Young, VP-corporate affairs at Skittles parent Wrigley Americas posted a few hours after the Donald Trump Jr. tweet appeared, "Skittles are candy. Refugees are people. We don't feel it's an appropriate analogy. We will respectfully refrain from further commentary as anything we say could be misinterpreted as marketing."

Tic Tac USA (@Tic TacUSA) took the cue from Skittles in its own response on Twitter, "Tic Tac respects all women. We find the recent statements and behavior completely inappropriate and unacceptable."

Who knows when and where your brand will get mentioned, and what the best response should be? PR experts know. If you are looking for a new PR partner, turn to LookBook.

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