Late last week Skittles announced the relaunch of Skittles.com, which isn't so much a website as an app pointing visitors elsewhere online where Skittles material — official or not — is hosted.
Visits to Skittles.com drive users to a search for "skittles" on Summize, a real-time search engine for Twitter.com. Floating above this material is a Skittles navigation bar: product links drive users to Wikipedia, and media links send them to either YouTube or flickr, for example.
Spokesman Ryan Bowling of parent firm MARS called the Agency.com-created site "very different from anything else consumers are seeing," adding that the format is inspired by "consumer chatter and beliefs about our brand."
And while it may be true that consumers haven't seen the unusual format before, advertisers and client brands may have. In March 2008 Boston-based agency Modernista dismantled its own site, driving curious users to flickr, Facebook, Wikipedia, and elsewhere.
At the time, armchair speculators oscillated between dubbing the "siteless site" inspired, gimmicky and even dangerous. In early February, for example, Modernista's "n3wz" link — which drives users to Google News and Google Blogs — "promoted" the agency's own layoffs.
But according to Bowling, the Skittles site differs "substantially" from Modernista's because it drives users to social media sites. "It serves as your remote control," he insisted.
Users that wish to engage Skittles.com must enter their birth dates, as it is company policy not to actively advertise to users less than 12 years old. MARS said the landing page will regularly change "depending on what is currently in market."
In the handful of days it's been live, it's already changed once. Upon launch, Skittles.com pointed to its page on Wikipedia; now it points to the Twitter search site.
But this may have less to do with its landing page flexibility than it does with Wikipedia's potentially fickle nature; when Modernista launched its siteless site last year, it also pointed to its page on Wikipedia — which was pulled off the online encyclopedia hours later.
Visits to Modernista.com now point users to its Facebook page.