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Success Stories: SKITTLES Summer-Ade

1 Jul 2024

The following article is a case study for the SKITTLES® Summer-Ade campaign, winner of a 2024 Effie Award in the Seasonal/Event category.


SKITTLES® ranks highly among Gen Z’s most-loved brands in the fruity confections category but needed to fund an innovative way to re-energize sales momentum with this critical demographic.

Skittles Summer-Ade Digital Banner Ad

There was no better time to do so than summer. It’s a high-volume season for the category, thanks in part to its bold flavors, transportability, and the non-melting properties of the products. In fact, 71% of U.S. residents say summer holiday celebrations involve candy, including beach days, camping, and road trips.

The strategic challenge was to create a new, evergreen summer usage occasion for SKITTLES®, providing the brand with newsworthy seasonal relevance to drive conversion and incremental purchase with Gen Z in-store and online.


  • Revitalize unit sales and category share declines by driving purchase of SKITTLES® among Gen Z shoppers during the summer season through a relevant, brand-owned ritual that would create a new usage occasion.
  • Build awareness for the promotion to inspire Gen Z to make SKITTLES® part of their everyday summer occasions.
  • Drive participation in a SKITTLES® Summer-Ade sweepstakes conducted as part of the campaign.
Skittles Summer-Ade Lemon Squeezy Recipe


Gen Z is not just our core audience for SKITTLES®, it is also the group most responsible for new and unique food culture trends. According to Innova Market Insights, 90% of Gen Z are willing to try new food and 35% will do so simply because the concept sounds interesting. This group also craves nostalgic summer rituals (like s’mores), but paradoxically thirsts for trendy new ways to play with their food while making it their own.

Meanwhile, Gen Z’s summer isn’t full of glamorous occasions and events. For this group, anticipated rituals make the sunny season the best time of the year. Simple traditions like backyard barbecues and going to the beach let them make the most out of every ray of daylight.

Skittle Summer-Ade P-O-P Display


The campaign’s core idea was to tap into Gen Z’s thirst for these annual rituals and their food-trend obsession simultaneously to create a new-yet-familiar summer ritual that is distinctly SKITTLES® and newsworthy. It was a uniquely ownable approach for the SKITTLES® brand, which is all about being unexpected and flipping reality in ridiculous, entertaining ways.

There was no better season than summer to dial up the carefree, nonsensical fun. And fewer things are more quintessential to summer than lemonade stands. To tap into Gen Z’s obsession with the age-old tradition, Mars Wrigley and Mars UnitedSM Commerce created “SKITTLES® Summer-Ade,” a unique way to enhance this classic summer ritual by creating new lemonade recipes using the brand’s products as an ingredient.


The national program was designed to build awareness for the concept and drive purchase in-store and online. The program leveraged social influencers to spread the word, shoppable recipes in collaboration with the Tasty food network to drive inspiration, and a targeted in-store and at-home mobile push to build awareness. It also leveraged a partnership with delivery-app Gopuff, along with a TalkShopLive livestream activation, to reach the target audience.

All these elements laddered up to a national microsite filled with engaging SKITTLES® Summer-Ade content and a sweepstakes that encouraged consumers to stir up their own recipes for a chance to win the grand prize: an absurd Airbnb stay inspired by SKITTLES® Summer-Ade occasions.

A team of brand mixologists developed six national recipes, with Mars United’s creative team developing accompanying videos that were used to drive inspiration and awareness and laid the groundwork for the new usage occasion among the Gen Z target.

The effort also included a limited-time-offer experience at 17 Six Flags amusement parks in which SKITTLES® partnered with a leading beverage maker to develop an exclusive Summer-Ade recipe and cup design for “Rockin’ Razz Lemonade.”

At retail, SKITTLES® teamed with key grocers — Albertsons, H-E-B, and the retail brands of Ahold Delhaize USA — to develop exclusive, retailer-owned recipes aimed at driving cross-category conversion and basket-building. The Albertsons program featured private-label brand Soleil in a seltzer-inspired recipe; H-E-B touted a Texas-inspired recipe featuring its popular Texas Tea brand.

Additional programs were conducted with other mass merchant, last-mile and convenience store retailers through onsite and offsite digital media, as well as in-store signage.

Skittles Summer-Ade Albertsons Custom Activation


The campaign drove significant year-over-year unit sales and share growth — accounting for 37% of all incremental unit growth for the fruity confections category during the program window. Tactics used to support this campaign exceeded their benchmarks at both the national and shopper marketing levels. 

Not only did SKITTLES® win the category during a peak consumption period, the brand also was able to establish an owned, evergreen summer ritual that resonated with the critical Gen Z shopper audience it was targeting.

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