Digital & Social Media

Late-Night KitKat Googling

Late-Night KitKat Googling
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Campaign: In a surprise move, Google has named its new Android mobile operating system “KitKat,” after Nestlé’s iconic four-fingered slab of chocolate. The Swiss food conglomerate confirmed the partnership.

To promote the launch, London-based JWT, KitKat’s agency, has created a promotional online video, “The Future of Confectionery,” spoofing tech product launches. There is also an above-the-line campaign, and on-pack promotions are being coordinated in 19 markets around the world.

As part of the promotion, 50 million chocolate bars are set to feature Android branding. The packs will lead consumers to Google’s website, where they will have the opportunity to win prizes, including a limited number of Nexus 7 tablets, and credits to spend in the Google Play store.

As part of the announcement, Google revealed a giant KitKat Android statue at its Mountain View offices.

Google had originally intended to name the new operating system (OS) “Key Lime Pie” in an effort to maintain its tradition of naming each mobile OS after a sweet treat following in alphabetical order. The three previous systems were named Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean.

However, Google decided that many people wouldn’t recognize and identify with Key Lime Pie. Realizing that many of the OS developers were munching on KitKats late into the night, John Lagerling, head of global partnerships for Android, reached out to JWT. A deal was confirmed a mere 24 hours later.

Contagious, FleishmanHillard’s McNeel Weighs In

Contagious: OK, so this one was a shock for Contagious, as it was for, well, pretty much everyone. However, this opportunistic play could prove a real success for both parties.

Most innovative and successful brand partnerships tend to rely on that most ambiguous of traits, synergies—a vague shared sense of the world, a mutual market to target, complementary products to innovate with etc. Think Apple and Nike, for example. Yet, Android and KitKat still seems to come out of left field and has caught everyone by surprise, leading to an avalanche of coverage from major news outlets.

For Google, mobile software OS launches still tend to excite a niche, tech-literate audience. But this partnership has seen the new OS launch seep out of the tech blogs and into the mainstream, so that even if you don’t know your Donut from your Froyo, Android 4.4 KitKat might actually mean something to you. It could therefore be something that more people seek out sooner. In the midst of this, KitKat is landing itself some geekdom cool and is communicating in true standout fashion from the rest of the category.

They’ve also got something that’s scalable: 19 markets are set to rollout the on-pack and retail promotion, enthused by the opportunity to anoint KitKat as the now official late-night snack of choice for Google geniuses.

But what if Android 4.4 KitKat proves to be a dud? And will there be KitKat branding on the OS? Will the Nestlé-detractors (of whom there are many) shift some of their focus to Google?

It’s all interesting stuff.

John McNeel: It’s not often that our friends over at Contagious profess to be “shocked.”  When it comes to out-there ideas and unexpected collisions between brands and technology, you’d think they had pretty much seen it all.

And yet, the recent pairing of KitKat confectionery and Google’s new mobile operating system clearly gave them food for thought… or at least, you could say, an indulgent snack.

While the end of the story still remains to be written, the opening salvo in this idiosyncratic co-branding venture is a compelling example of how logic no longer rules in the world of marketing and communications. It’s a modern day fairy tale that shows how—when you want to make jaded consumers sit up and take notice—the lateral quite often trumps the literal.

Yes, Virginia, inspired randomness resonates. In a world where sacred cows are there to be milked, brands that are able to make connections that aren’t self-serving, or even self-evident, but that lend themselves to further exploration, consumer conjecture and yes, even participation in the writing of the narrative, are the ones that win.

Case in point: It took Nestlé less than 24 hours to agree to allow its KitKat brand to be at the center of this inspired experiment. Where were the brand bureaucrats, the legal eagles, the deal deliberators? Where, indeed, were the Swiss, with their famous neutrality?

This is a beautiful case of two major global corporations that basically agreed to join forces in a WTF kind of endeavor, without quite knowing where it might take them. No amount of analytics or modeling or linear projections could possibly anticipate the potential outcomes, for either brand—and that took courage.

Of course, to give credit where credit is due, the idea did originate from within the bowels of Google—which should give agency creative teams pause. Nonetheless, JWT did embrace actively and swiftly the opportunity that was thrown its way, and went on to produce a lovely and loony piece of content promoting the KitKat candy bar in a way that basically mocks the self-importance of tech companies like, well, Google. Delicious irony.

More lateral, less literal—a new standard to which we should all aspire.

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About the author

This article was syndicated from Contagious Feed, an indispensable resource to the marketing communications industry focusing on competitive intelligence, best practices, new technology and consumer behavior. In addition to the flagship quarterly publication, app and Feed, Contagious has developed a consultancy and a series of world-class conferences, including its annual Most Contagious event.

John McNeel is FleishmanHillard's global managing director of strategic integration, accelerating the firm’s integration of various communications disciplines across paid, earned, shared and owned media platforms.