Sunday, November 18, 2007

Ingmar Bergman's "Skittles" (1958)

I know that theoretically there is no such thing as bad publicity. Still, I can't help but wonder what Skittles was thinking here.

Aside from that awful GM robot one that ran during the Super Bowl, this might be the most depressing ad I've ever seen. Ads for Skittles and Starburst have tended to be exceedingly random, but this is five steps beyond simply "silly/goofy" and well into "bleak/terrifying." My question is, how smart is it to depict your product as the cause of someone's suffering? Shouldn't you want your brand associated only with good things? Sure, we all know that the idea of someone with this affliction is pure fancy, but a lot of existentialist fiction starts from somewhat fanciful premises, using them as allegories to discuss the human condition. Skittles tells a story in which its product generates serious human misery and doesn't seem to think anything of that. I think that's a little weird.

It kind of reminds me of the promotional short story that the National Licorice Company published in 1952, where the first line was, "Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams and found he had transformed into a giant Twizzler." That story is fucking dark.


Quivering P. Landmass said...

It's too bad they had to make it monumentally depressing, because actually that's some of the coolest effects I've ever seen in a commercial. If this were like a 30-second independent film, rather than a commercial, I'd hail it as a success.

Tyler said...

They should show this during Pushing Daisies.

Anonymous said...

I don't know, I think I disagree with you guys on this one. It's a Midas touch reference. That something as seemingly good as turning what you touch into gold (or in this case Skittles) isn't good when it actually happens. Maybe it was depressing to you guys, I just thought it was kind of funny. Bonus points for the Metamorphosis reference at the end, but I can't see how this ad isn't good.