Trayvon Martin

Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in February 2012 near his home in Sanford, Florida.He was on his way back from the store where he had purchased a bag of Skittles and a bottle of iced tea. Because of the death of the unarmed teen, questions regarding racial injustice have surrounded the arrest, prosecution, and acquittal of George Zimmerman, and whether self defense was involved.The controversial case gripped the nation, and college students and teens began marching in protest, with Skittles bags taped across their mouths. At SpelmanCollege, a historically blackwomen’s liberal arts school in Atlanta, the students began selling bags of Skittles in order to raise money for the Martin family.

The result was that Wrigley (and its parent company Mars) experienced unprecedented sales and resulting profits. All of the attention to the brand as well as increased sales produced a backlash. On Twitter and various blogs, there was pressure on Wrigley to take the profits earned to make donations to the Martin family or to organizations that promote racial reconciliation.Some of the sites asked for a boycott of Skittles until the company pledged to reinvest the profits in African American communities.Wrigley released a statement that indicated it was “deeply saddened, respects the family’sprivacy” and that it would be “inappropriate to get involved or comment further as we would never wish for our actions to be perceived as an attempt of commercial gain following this tragedy.”

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Kim Severson, “For Skittles, Death Brings Both Profit and Risk.” New York Times. March 29, 2012, p. A14.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How should a company deal with its product becoming a symbol for a tragedy and resulting social protests?
  2. Should Wrigley be making donations as was suggested in social media?
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