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Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Killing of Trayvon Martin: The Commercial Fallout

Posted by David Schmader on Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 2:29 PM

As the New York Times reports, Skittles sales are up:

The candy has been piled into makeshift memorials, crammed into the pockets of thousands of people who have shown up at rallies in his name and sent to the Sanford Police Department to protest the lack of an arrest in the case.

Like the hoodie sweatshirt he was wearing, the candy has been transformed into a cultural icon, a symbol of racial injustice that underscores Trayvon’s youth and the circumstances surrounding his death. But in the offices of the company that makes Skittles, Wrigley, and its parent company, Mars, Skittles’ new level of fame has quickly become a kind of marketing crisis that is threatening to hurt the company even as sales improve.

“You get trained if someone dies eating your product, but I don’t think anyone has been through training for something like this,” said Beth Gallant, a marketing professor at Lehigh University...

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And as Movieline reports, the release of the action comedy Neighborhood Watch is complicated:

High five to Fox for pulling their bullet-ridden Neighborhood Watch marketing materials from Florida theaters this week following the February killing of Trayvon Martin. Trying to get as much distance as possible from the teaser's emphasis on grown men Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and Richard Ayoade stalking and finger-shooting suburban kids is a good idea and a sensitive move — not to mention a no-brainer necessity, PR-wise — so the studio's forthcoming campaign will likely focus on the film's "broad alien-invasion comedy" elements. But even four months from now, will it be too soon for Neighborhood Watch to make fun escapism out of vigilante violence?

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