The Verdict: Skittles scores with Tree Boy

The Wrigley Canada brand's recent "Free Tree Boy" effort has become the company's most successful candy promo.
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Skittles isn’t exactly a stranger to quirkiness. The Wrigley Canada brand is known for its out-there – and sometimes Cannes Lions award-winning – campaigns. A recent promotion knocked it out of the park, clocking in as the company’s most successful candy promo.
Wrigley wanted to boost sales by building on its Tree Boy commercial (created by U.S.-based TBWA\Chiat\Day with media by MediaCom) featuring a boy who harvests Skittles from a tree growing from his stomach, who dreams of going to university. The goal, says Dan Alvo, marketing director, Wrigley Canada, was to create a 360-degree campaign encompassing in-store, PR and digital.
Toronto-based Hunter Straker was enlisted, creating a mock “Free Tree Boy” movement. At its core is a “Buy Skittles, Get the Freedom Band” call to action, in-store POP, wild postings and a modified package design to accommodate one of six collectible “Freedom Bands” that the firm designed. People could order the bands for free and vote for the university Tree Boy should attend at Freetreeboy.ca, a mobile site created by Transcontinental. A national PR program by Fleishman-Hillard included a mobile component plus a Toronto Eaton Centre event with chalk artist Julian Beever. The campaign ran nationally from May to August.
Free Tree Boy exceeded sales expectations with double-digit growth compared to a Skittles promo the previous year and consumers gobbled up all 400,000 bands. The
fight-the-power “Free Tree Boy” visual helped draw people to the display, while the call to action drove the final sale, says Matthew Diamond, partner and managing director, Hunter Straker. “For the end consumer, this was a very simple program, with instant gratification [and] an incentive to drive multiple purchases given the six varieties of Freedom Bands.”