“Did it work?”

 David Schwimmer

David Schwimmer

One of the most talked about ads during the run up to NFL Super Bowl 2018 was a Skittles commercial that has, even now, only ever been seen by one person – a teenager called Marcos Menendez. On Wednesday June 20 at 15.30 in the Debussy Theatre, executives from Mars Wrigley Confectionery and ad agency DDB explained how they came up with the concept, helped by actor, director, producer David Schwimmer – the star of the campaign’s quirky on-screen creative execution.

Rankin Carroll, president, fruity confections CBU Mars Wrigley Confectionary, said: “The most important time for our business is the run-up to the Super Bowl, the hype rather than the event itself. So we wanted a way to achieve better results at a lower cost than spending $6-7mon a 30-second Super Bowl commercial.”

The solution, devised by DDB, was to create a pre-event teaser campaign on digital media that set up the idea of an ad that only one person would get to see, rather than the 103 million audience that watched the game live on US network NBC. First there was a mock news announcement to this effect, then four short surreal digital film executions featuring David Schwimmer. In each film, Schwimmer speculated on whether it would be part of the commercial that Marcos Menendez would see. The culmination of the campaign was a live film dropped on Facebook on Super Bowl night, showing Marcos’ reaction to the ad – rather than the ad itself.

Ari Weiss, chief creative officer at DDB, said one challenge was to ensure the campaign was authentic – so Marcos absolutely had to be a real kid. Another was not knowing where users would enter the campaign: “Audiences consume media all over the place, so you don’t know which interaction will be their first. So we had to create a compelling aggregate story that would encourage them to search for more.”

Schwimmer, who brought a lightness of touch to the Cannes Lions session, was asked why he took part in this, his first ever ad: “Certainly not the money,” he quipped, then added: “I thought the idea was so original – it made me laugh. I’m a fan of the humour and dark style of Skittles commercials so though it would be a blast to contribute.”

Delegates were shown a behind-the-scenes film of the various ad executions being made – though Marcos’ bespoke ad remains under wraps. But did it work? asked Schwimmer. Carrol replied: “The media changes every day, so this was a way to test and learn. It showed us ways to connect with consumers and grow our business.”

 

Harriet Palmer