News & Views

Google Android, KitKat / The Byte of a Smart Partnership

by Contagious Team

Mountain View turns to the Swiss Alps for a new naming partnership

In a surprise move, Google has named its new Android mobile operating system 'KitKat'. Swiss food conglomerate Nestlé has confirmed that the move is in partnership with the four-fingered chocolate bar. 

To promote the launch, KitKat's agency, JWT in London, 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. 

The operating system (OS) was originally set to be named 'Key Lime Pie', maintaining Google's tradition of naming each mobile OS after a sweet treat, in alphabetical order. Previous examples include Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean. 

However, Google decided that many people wouldn't recognise Key Lime Pie, and realising that many of the OS developers were munching on KitKats late into the night, John Lagerling, head of global partnerships for Android told the BBC that they reached out to JWT. A deal was confirmed just 24 hours later. Lagerling also confirmed that 'this is not a money changing hands kind of deal'.

Contagious Insight   

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 is, on the face of it, totally left field and has caught everyone by surprise, leading to an avalanche of inquiring and intrigued PR 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 (now redefined) geekdom cool and is communicating in true stand out 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 remind consumers that KitKat is now officially the late-night snack of choice for Google geniuses.

Also, this is perhaps a stamp of approval for KitKat, in the UK at least, and a turnaround from way back in 2004 when the bar seemed to have lost all love amongst UK consumers (see this Guardian article).

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

It's all interesting stuff.