Skittles and Donald Trump Jr. or How to Speak Up as a Brand

Sometimes, it's what we don't say or do that makes all the difference. On Monday, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted about refugees, pulling a popular brand into the conversation against its will. The image showed a white bowl full of Skittles, accompanied by the text, "“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.”

How we Respond

Response was swift and strong: The Clinton campaign called the post "disgusting." The Twitterverse unleashed commentary shaming the campaign:

And turning it around on the Trumps:

Major media outlets quickly chimed in, too, putting the Tweet in context of cold, hard facts:

But something inarguably good also came from the terrible Tweet. And, as I said to my coworkers, maybe I've gotten a bit too jaded, because I was surprised—and incredibly impressed—by the official response from Skittles. First off, they spoke up at all. Second, they didn't make the controversy a marketable moment. They didn't design a response Tweet. They didn't even necessarily take an official position. Instead, they released a simple statement. It read as follows:

Why we Respond

Sometimes, the loudest way to say something is also the simplest. Skittles understood that the refugee crisis is entirely too serious to capitalize on—and too serious to remain silent about, as well. These are the kinds of choices that make consumers feel genuinely good about brands. A quick search of Twitter conversation in Spredfast Intelligence reveals that conversation around Skittles grew by 2,377% over the past couple of days:

And Skittles' straightforward, step-in-say-our-piece-and-be-done email has garnered national attention anyway. Skittles didn't necessarily have to say anything. But they chose to—and that choice made me feel better about my late-night Skittles purchase at CVS last night.

Hear from more great brands who take serious stands about the issues that matter at our upcoming Summit.

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Jaime Netzer is Spredfast's Senior Content Marketing Manager, leading content operations. A Lawrence, Kansas native, she traded seasons for breakfast tacos seven years ago and hasn't looked back since. Also a fiction writer and journalist, Jaime tweets semi-regularly and reads constantly.