Wrigley Responds To Donald Trump Jr.’s Skittles Analogy For Syrian Refugees

The brand doesn’t want its unintentional involvement to be seen as any type of marketing.

WHAT: Yesterday Donald Trump Jr. tweeted out a well-worn analogy using Skittles to describe his father’s approach to the Syrian refugee crisis, and let’s just say the brand did not approve his message.


WHO: Wrigley, Skittles, Donald Trump Jr.

WHY WE CARE: Whatever you call it, it’s been known as the poisonous peanut or poisonous M&M analogy for years, it’s always been used to instill fear and doubt by attaching perceived specificity to a sweeping generalization. Like saying more than 38,000 people died in auto accidents last year in the U.S., then asking if a bowl of Skittles are all cars, but one represents a fatal accident, would you climb into the driver’s seat this morning? (Answer: Of course you would, but the analogy makes it scary.) Yesterday, it was Donald Trump Jr.’s turn to trot it out in an effort to simplify his father’s message around Syrian refugees.

His analogy was quickly criticized, but one unwitting participant in this whole thing was Skittles. Turns out the brand has no plans to adopt the tagline “Discriminate The Rainbow,” as Denise Young, Wrigley’s vice-president of corporate affairs for Wrigley Americas, told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement:

“Skittles are candy. Refugees are people. We don’t feel it’s an appropriate analogy. We will respectfully refrain from further commentary as anything we say could be misinterpreted as marketing.”

The brand, like the Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Adele and other artists, didn’t appreciate its product being associated with the Republican nominee.

UPDATE: Neither, it would seem, does the refugee who took the photo of the bowl of Skittles.

About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.