Behind the Scenes - Android KitKat co-branding by JWT London

Behind the Scenes - Android KitKat co-branding by JWT London
Google has teamed up with Nestle to call the next version of its mobile operating system Android KITKAT. JWT London's Head of Account Management Antony Hill and Creative Director Barry Christie tell us how they brokered the deal between Google and their client Nestle.

So it’s late November 2012, I’ve just arrived home (having accepted the head of account management job at JWT London earlier in the day) when the phone rings…

On the other end is someone who introduces himself as the Senior Director of Android Global Partnerships for Google. John Lagerling continues the conversation by stating that this is no standard sales call but that he wants to talk about a wacky thought they’ve had to see if the next release of the Android operating system could be named KITKAT.

Given how brilliant a day it’s been, my first reaction was that someone at the office was having a laugh at my expense but having stalled for long enough (excuse me while I find somewhere quieter) to confirm John’s credentials with a quick Google search, the importance of the call rapidly began to crystallise.

An unprecedented partnership

The opportunity was huge. We were talking about JWT brokering an unprecedented partnership to name an operating system after a real world brand. Here was our chance to brand the unconscious breaks our consumers enjoy on their mobile devices and benefit from the unsurpassable amount of attention created by the modern phenomena of sexy tech launches.

The fit with our vision for the KITKAT brand could not have been better:

• Ambition to achieve iconic brand status.
• Relevance to the changing and increasingly fluid nature of break taking.
• Rise of smartphone usage within breaks.
• Grow the role of digital communications when telling our story.

But could these very different corporate cultures come together and collaborate successfully? One ships product at the touch of a button, the other plans their production with military like precision at least 18 months in advance.

It would prove to be a challenging but great ride. The request to immediately sign an NDA forced me to concentrate on the here and now rather than what could be. And even though it felt like the call was close to concluding, unusually no mention of how much this was going to cost had been discussed*. However, we said our goodbyes both unable to hide our excitement with the prospect of making this a reality.

Presenting the idea

A few internal calls later, accompanied by a flurry of quick PowerPoint’ing and myself, Stephanos Klimathianos (WPP Global Client leader) and Christophe Cauvy (Head of European Digital & Innovation) were presenting the idea to our global Kit Kat client, Stewart Dryburgh, who having approved for us to send a KITKAT to space during our #breakfromgravity event a few months earlier, had a good track record of buying brave ideas.

The next day, John joined the conversation and we reached an agreement in principle subject to further internal discussions at both parties.

These further discussions were to take nine months and by the end of the gestation period the core JWT London team had grown from Stephanos, Christophe, Barry Christie (creative lead), James Keane (digital designer) and I to involve over 200 people from JWT Worldwide.

During this period, Nestle, Andriod and the core JWT team met secretly during CES in Las Vegas, Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Cannes, Vevey and of course many, many times in London and on Google Hangouts to firm up the partnership. The headline agreements made were:

• Naming the K release of Android KITKAT (naming an operating system after a real brand would be a world first). 
• Android brand presence on over 50 million KITKAT wrappers in 19 markets (turning a chocolate bar into a physical media vehicle for a virtual brand). 
• A compelling on pack promotional mechanic (delighting consumers by giving them a chance to win Nexus tablets and credit for Google Play). 
• Local market amplification of the partnership by both parties (extending the reach and fame of the unprecedented partnership). 

Creating the campaign

As KITKAT’s global agency partner, JWT rose to the challenge magnificently. JWT London took the lead, designing the promotional packaging and co-creating the K release icon. We then set about creating the central campaign assets to be used globally: the bespoke web site and accompanying social campaign deployed across G+, YouTube, Twitter and one other social media site beginning with F. The global team managed the incredibly confidential and complex phase of on-boarding our local offices, and creating a number of local campaigns that will amplify the partnership.

Knowing that success resided in keeping the deal a complete secret and that initially there was little detail available about the features of Android KITKAT, we ensured our surprising content could fill this vacuum; satisfying a detail-hungry audience as they excitedly hunted out information on the partnership and the release. Using the tropes of tech and chocolate we planted ideas, imagery and copy that would ensure KITKAT wouldn’t be eclipsed or overshadowed.

Cut to launch day and a meeting room in JWT London’s 1 Knightsbridge Green headquarters. The team are waiting for Sundar Pichai (SVP Google) to push the announcement live and then BOOM! The internet shakes and we’re all grinning from ear to ear.

So far, the results make very nice reading indeed. 

Enjoy our confectionery perfectionery at www.kitkat.com

*It turned out that no money was to change hands due to the desire by both sides to try something fun and unexpected.

Last updated 10/09/2013

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