Skittles put up a one-day only Broadway musical with actor Michael C. Hall as the lead instead of buying a $5 million Super Bowl ad — here's an exclusive look inside

Tanya Dua/Business InsiderMichael C. Hall performs at Skittles Commercial: The Broadway Musical
  • Super Bowl commercials have become as big a phenomena as the game itself. But some brands prefer to pull off wacky stunts instead of shelling out $US5 million for a 30-second spot.
  • Skittles put up a one-day-only, 30 minute-long Broadway musical titled “Skittles Commercial: The Broadway Musical” on the day of the Super Bowl in New York City.
  • Business Insider attended the musical, which was a self-deprecating take on advertising itself, starring actor Michael C. Hall.

Super Bowl commercials have become as big a phenomena as the game itself, with brands shelling as much as $US5 million for a 30-second commercial during the big game to grab consumers’ eyeballs. But not every brand ends up taking that route.

Skittles, for instance, put up an entire Broadway musical in New York City on the afternoon of Super Bowl Sunday instead of creating an ad to air during the game.

The 30 minute-long play, called “Skittles Commercial: The Broadway Musical,” was a self-deprecatingly funny take on advertising itself, with lead actor Michael C. Hall and an ensemble cast.

The play, a legitimate production in its own right, was put together by Skittles’ advertising agency DDB, and written by Pulitzer finalist and playwright Will Eno. It was directed by Soho Rep artistic director Sarah Benson, with the music composition by Drew Gasparini and choreography by Raja Feather Kelly.

Business Insider had the chance to go check the experience out live. Here’s what it was like.


Skittles put up its Broadway Musical at The Town Hall in the heart of New York City’s Theatre District on Sunday, Feb. 3 at 1 p.m.

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The 30 minute-long play, called “Skittles Commercial: The Broadway Musical,” was a self-deprecatingly funny take on advertising itself, starring actor Michael C. Hall.

Tanya Dua/Business Insider

The tickets ranged from $US30 to more than $US200 apiece, with proceeds going to the nonprofit organisation Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

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Like a typical Broadway show, the brand was selling merchandise associated with the play.

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And of course Skittles…

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Some 1,500 people saw the musical come to life.

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The play started off with a scene set at a bodega on the day of the Super Bowl, where Hall makes an appearance, dressed as a…. cat. Hall — who is best known for his roles in Dexter and Six Feet Under — humorously questions whether he is ruining his career by being a sell-out and starring in the Skittles show.

Skittles

He’s not dressed as a cat for no reason. The outfit is a reference to Skittles’ 2013 Super Bowl ad, which features a cat. The brand has also featured other animals in its advertising, such as a bear.

Skittles

The musical was highly meta, with several cast members seated amid the audience getting up to engage with the cast on stage on numerous occasions.

Tanya Dua/Business Insider

The most surprising part about the show was that it didn’t feel like it was hastily put together by a brand. It really did feel like a Broadway musical — and everything from the music to the costumes and even the choreography was top-notch.

Tanya Dua/Business Insider

The play was littered with humour — specifically self-deprecating humour directed at the advertising industry. The show was sort of a deeper look at how brands infiltrate our lives. But even as Skittles poked fun at that aspect, it didn’t hesitate to insert itself wherever possible.

Lauren Johnson/Business Insider

At one point, the cast sang the song “Advertising Ruins Everything,” a track that tears apart advertising in a funny way, from the spam emails you get in your inbox to the targeted ads you’re fed on Instagram. The four songs, including the one above, are all available on Spotify.

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There was also a reference to Business Insider on stage, with the cast going ahead to talk about how the play was a success. (That did not influence our review!)

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The musical concluded with a splashy drape touting the brand, of course.

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…. And some confetti.

Tanya Dua/Business Insider

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