Success Stories: 'SKITTLES Pride It Forward'

Objectives: SKITTLES® and Walmart are active, authentic advocates of the LGBTQ+ community with an ongoing collaboration engaging, interactive Pride Month activities that drives awareness and support among shoppers — because the more the LGBTQ+ community is given visibility, the more progress is gained toward universal acceptance.


Secondary objectives:

  • Drive visibility for the LGTBQ+ community among Walmart shoppers by building an enterprise-wide partnership with the retailer.

  • Educate shoppers on why Pride Matters to SKITTLES and how a product purchase will benefit the LGBTQ+ community.

  • Support GLAAD with a SKITTLES donation of $1 per pack sold, up to $100,000.

KPIs are media and P-O-P display impressions.

Target Audience: SKITTLES over-indexes in consumption by Gen Z and ranks as one of the demographic’s favorite candy brands. Not only is advocacy in general important to this key SKITTLES consumer (72% of Gen Z’ers believe that brands have a responsibility to stand up for social causes), but LGBTQ+ rights in particular are a Top 5 issue for the group.


Over half of Gen Z identifies as non-hetero and, therefore, faces higher levels of discrimination than any other generation. As a brand that caters to Gen Z, it is our responsibility to advocate for them by leveraging our platform to drive acceptance through increased visibility. This goal resonates with the target audience, as we know that 94% of


Walmart confection shoppers say they value equality and opportunity for all.

Broadly speaking, then, the target was the many Walmart shoppers who support Pride and the LGBTQ+ community but don’t necessarily have the cause top of mind when shopping at the retailer.

Campaign Outline: From the beginning, the SKITTLES Pride It Forward campaign at Walmart has centered on one simple concept that aligns with SKITTLES’ classic brand iconography: In June, only one rainbow matters — the one that signifies pride for the LGBTQ+ community.


That’s why SKITTLES celebrates Pride Month each year by giving up the iconic colored rainbow on its packaging and its similarly multi-colored candies to enable the LGBTQ+ community’s Pride rainbow to take center stage.


In a unique, ongoing and growing partnership with Walmart, Mars Wrigley’s Walmart omnishopper team executes an annual Pride It Forward campaign to help the retailer’s shoppers express their own support for the LGBTQ+ community through purchase-driven donations, social sharing, event participation, and other public activities.



SKITTLES began formally supporting the LGTBQ+ community in Europe in 2017, and in 2020 decided to bring those efforts to the U.S. Due to the heightened political environment at that time, SKITTLES treated the first-year program as a test-and-learn at Walmart to see if U.S. shoppers were receptive to the idea of a candy brand having a stance on LGBTQ rights.


Fortunately, the 2020 program proved not only that Walmart shoppers were receptive to the idea of a confectionary brand advocating for the LGBTQ+ community, but that they expected more — a fact proven by the 100% sell-through of promotional products and the overwhelmingly positive sentiment (98%) the campaign received.


Although it had achieved strong sell-through results, awareness for the omnishopper campaign was still in its infancy after the first year: Some shoppers had been confused about why SKITTLES packages were missing their rainbow colors. To address this issue in year two, we needed an omnishopper campaign that would more clearly and overtly communicate the program’s purpose.


2021

For the 2021 campaign, limited-edition SKITTLES Pride Packs (gray-scale packaging carrying all-gray candy lentils) remained the centerpiece, as did a partnership with GLAAD, the world's leading LGBTQ+ media advocacy group, through which the brand pledges $1 to the organization with each SKITTLES purchase (up to $100,000).


However, the way in which the message was brought to life through the omnishopper campaign became more robust in 2021 as we partnered with Walmart to showcase the program in more engaging ways. The Walmart omnishopper team worked to highlight the national program in a tailored way by offering an additional platform for the retailer’s shoppers to support, educate and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. This was accomplished through three levels of engagement. Shoppers could:

  1. Purchase SKITTLES packs at Walmart to support GLAAD.

  2. Educate themselves or others by using QR codes on in-store displays to gain access to a Walmart.com brand page.

  3. Interact with augmented reality filters and in-store experiences that encouraged them to share the message or “Pride It Forward” by sharing SKITTLES with a friend, either physically or digitally.

To ensure that the SKITTLES connection with Pride was overtly clear, all shopper communication carried the word along with the LGBTQ+ acronym and a mention of the GLAAD partnership.


To deliver the message online, we worked with Walmart Connect to develop an extensive media program that included a special landing page and a grocery shelf page featuring product information. Targeted display and search media amplified the message well beyond Walmart.com.


Activation at all 4,700 Walmart stores included half pallet-displays in two departments (immediate consumption and future consumption). The merchandising was bolstered by an exclusive augmented reality experience activated through on-display QR codes that gave shoppers more opportunities to PRIDE It Forward (see Unique Activation Touch Points below).


For retailtainment, we brought a national SKITTLES mural art activation to life at 11 stores by partnering with LGBTQ+ community members and allies, who created interactive chalk art murals in parking lots, extending the opportunity for shoppers to educate and advocate.


2022

Topping successful prior-year results became even more daunting this year, although Walmart is now as committed as SKITTLES to bringing this campaign to life. Thus, 2022 activation included more “firsts” that elevated the campaign by offering new ways to help shoppers Pride it Forward.

In the most significant program update, the SKITTLES brand team worked with six LGBTQ+ artists to design original Pride packages to be sold nationally instead of the all-gray designs of previous years. For the Walmart omnishopper campaign, our team:

  • Leveraged the package design of one artist for exclusive content and artwork showcases. The artist’s work was also featured in on-site and off-site banner advertising.

  • Activated an engaging brand page where visitors could learn about all the packaging artists, read more about the GLAAD donation, watch an exclusive video about the featured artist, and download a coloring sheet.

  • Directed shoppers to the brand page from the AR experience as part of a more robust activation (see Unique Activation Touch Points).

  • Partnered with the retailer and the Walmart Pride Associate Resource Group to share the featured artist’s story during a June meeting of the group.

  • Conducted an onsite program at the Bentonville Film Festival, an annual event that celebrates diversity and inclusivity in the film and media industries.

Additional activities in both 2021 and 2022 have included artist showcases through in-store or online content, community sponsorships, and massive digital media activations.


Unique Activation Touch Points: For the last two years, an exclusive AR experience (created in partnership with Blippar) has enabled Walmart shoppers to engage with unique elements of the campaign. In 2021, visitors interacted with themed selfie filters that could be shared socially (including through a Snapchat-specific lens), view the artist murals, and visit a related content hub on skittles.com. In 2022, they could download custom wallpapers and coloring pages from featured artists, add selfie filters, learn about the artists, and visit the Walmart.com brand page. QR codes on P-O-P materials and the brand page linked to the experience.


Results: Yearly results have been improving steadily as the partnership has matured and the program has grown.


In 2021, Walmart provided chainwide display distribution (4,700 vs. 1,430 locations in 2020), along with incremental added-value digital media on Walmart.com. In 2022, the retailer worked with Mars Wrigley’s Walmart omnishopper team to drive stronger engagement with its own associates and again provided incremental added-value digital media support.


The Walmart marketing, merchant and media teams have all identified the program as a “Best in Class” partnership.


SKITTLES easily achieved its $100,000 donation goal to GLAAD in all three years, and the effort continues to be a priority for both the brand and the retailer.


Shopper sentiment toward the program has achieved a 99% positive/neutral score, proving that Walmart shoppers support the ever-growing efforts of the brand and retailer to Pride It Forward.


Planning for the 2023 program began before the 2022 program had even ended.