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From Brand to Attention Strategy- KitKat and Android

September 4, 2013

KitKat has always been about owning “the break”, but that seems to have precious little to do with its latest marketing communication effort.

Yesterday KitKat announced a tie-in with Google’s Android operating system, where the chocolate covered wafer secured naming rights to the latest version of the OS. The sponsorship includes; an on-pack promotion for Nexus7 and an unveiling of the giant logo at Google’s HQ.

To put the icing on the cake, there’s even an Apple spoof product demo of KitKat that mocks Apple’s pretentiousness.

It’s probably worth a couple of minutes to dissect what’s going on here, so I will have a stab.

1. KitKat Badly Wants to Be Noticed

Like every brand these days, it’s concerned that a more traditional marketing approach will get lost in the clutter and sink without a trace.

2. Technology is Culture

The brand team get that technology has risen to such a point that it is the dominant culture, it forms a large chunk of new stories and because it’s so dynamic, people are always on the look out for the next new thing, so why not hijack it? KitKat’s approach is all about playing and poking fun at the culture.

3. Finding a Space

The Android operating system has used the nomenclature of food stuffs- Ice Cream Sandwich, Jellybean- so there was obviously a nice opportunity here.

4. Attention Strategy over Brand Strategy

This is all about getting noticed and has a slim/distant connection to the brand strategy. A sponsored break from your phone or the internet, would have been the most obvious place to go for this brand, but that might have been too hard to pull off.

5. The Quest to Be First

If you want to play the Attention Strategy game, being first is critical. You can’t simply copy what’s been done before, you have to find an original angle every time. This is obviously going to be time and effort consuming as agencies try very hard to not only come up with the idea, but negotiate to make it happen. If Google said “No” to KitKat, where do they go?

6. Media Ideas Over Creative Ideas

It’s always been a classic debate in the ad industry- what’s a creative idea and what’s a media idea? Where does one end and the other begin? In KitKat’s case, it’s clearly a media-led idea- where it came from is anyone’s guess, but since Android/Google is a media property and the idea is essentially a sponsorship and it’s media. Media is increasingly becoming the most important way to get attention- whether you create your own first and own the media content like Red Bull Stratos or find that unusual/exclusive tie in like KitKat.

7. Sustainable Expectations?

A couple of points on the sustainability of these ideas:

1. How long can you keep a news story alive? You need to plan out a trajectory to ensure longevity or you will just be yesterday’s news

2. How do you calibrate internal mechanisms to adjust for the fact that these efforts aren’t the norm?

In the long-term it will be interesting to see what the desperate quest for fame does for brands. Is it OK just to get noticed? Can you merge Attention and Brand Strategy without compromise? Is that enough just to get attention, or does something critical to the brand get lost in the race that is potentially damaging in the long-term?

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