Talk about unintended consequences.
After reports saying that Arizona Iced Tea and Skittles candy were found next to Trayvon Martin’s dead body, both products have become symbols of the 17-yr-old’s killing. They have both seen increased sales due to the repeated mentions in news coverage as well as people purchasing the products to show solidarity with the family or mark the death of Trayvon.
Spike Lee is someone who knows about the power of Tweeting. Over a week ago, Lee posted a tweet that encouraged people to send Skittles to the police in Sanford, Fl.
That post was re-tweeted many times over. Websites supporting last week’s “Million Hoodie March” also instructed those who could not attend to send bags of Skittles to the police chief.
As you might imagine, sales of Skittles are on the rise. There is now a call for the companies that make both Skittles and Arizona Tea to donate money to either the parents of the dead boy, or to a scholarship fund. Of course the Twitterverse is blazing with tweets on the topic:
As of this writing, neither company has said a word about sharing in the increased revenues generated from people choosing to buy products associated with the killing. However, both have made statements on the story.
Wrigley (they make Skittles), a division of the Mars Candy company, issued a statement through spokesperson Jennifer Jackson-Luth;
“We are deeply saddened by the news of Trayvon Martin’s death and express our sincere condolences to his family and friends. We also respect their privacy and feel it 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.”
CNN’s Headline News Network also reached out to the makers of Arizona Iced Tea and received an email answer on the subject of requests for sharing of the increased sales with Martin’s family.
“At this time, we will make no further comment as we wish to respect the family’s privacy and grieving time and feel it is inappropriate to become involved in a private family matter.”
The New York Times spoke with African-American studies Professor, Dr.Weldon McWilliams of Cheyney University in Pennsylvania. Dr. McWilliams told the Times that Wrigley should invest in communities where “murder based on stereotypes is a reoccurring theme.” He also said:
“If they do not, African-Americans should not be promoting the product.”
Should these companies be expected to share in the increased revenues seen from this tragedy? And if so, how much will be enough to satisfy those who see the situation that way?
Where do you stand on the topic? Should Skittles and Arizona Iced Tea be forced to donate money because their products have experienced increased sales based on this random association with a huge news story? Take our poll and share your thoughts below.