Sweet Talkers

September 20, 2016, by Sara R. Brady

Unexpectedly pulled into a particularly unexpected presidential political campaign, Skittles, the little candies, showed a welcome display of class this week when the company gently and subtly responded to a twitter posting by Donald Trump Jr.

Young Trump posted a photo of a bowl of the colored candies and tweeted, “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.” In a subsequent tweet he added, “This image says it all.”

Like groups with so much more invested in the outcome of this race for president, Skittles owners could have stayed quiet after being offended. Instead, using the same communication channel as young Trump, Wrigley, which owns the candy brand, responded.

“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.”

Short and sweet, like a small bag of the popular candies.

Strategic communication is often about keeping emotion out of your conversations in order to achieve positive outcomes. Certainly Wrigley could have ignored Young Trump’s post, but the implications of his statements were powerful enough to inspire the company to protect its beloved product from being compared to the horrors of war in Syria.

And they did just that while proving that a business can show integrity and humanity.
In a war of words, it’s not necessary to respond to every negative event, but when it’s done right, victory tastes sweet.

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