Android KitKat: of brand associations and creating buzz

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The next version of Android’s operating system will be named KitKat. No, this is not a headline from The Onion. The naming convention for Android OS until now has been (a) alphabetical (b) generic names of sweets or confectionaries. Some of the names up until now appealed to a niche audience (how many in India knew what Froyo was?). Up until now, the next version (after Jelly Bean) was know as Key Lime Pie but the decision to call this KitKat stemmed from the logic that ‘not many people knew the taste of Key Lime Pie’. Some in India harboured the hope that the next version will be named after an Indian delicacy (Kaju Katli, anyone?). Last year someone at Google suggested that the next version be called KitKat and then Google reached out to Nestle who agreed within 24 hours. What is interesting is that the deal does not involve any money.

KitKat Android Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 9.47.18 AM

According to a BBC report, Nestle now plans to deliver more than 50 million chocolate bars featuring the Android mascot to shops in 19 markets, including the UK, US, Brazil, India, Japan and Russia. Since Hershey’s own the KitKat brand in the US, an agreement has also been made with them to promote Android.

Nestle is already milking the deal with a new brand page spoofing tech speak and an announcer video parodying Apple. For now, Nestle is clearly the winner with KitKat dominating social media buzz and blog mentions. It is a coup of sorts since it is a break in the naming convention of Android by moving away from a generic name. It shouldn’t come entirely as a surprise as Google’s main business is advertising. However, I am assuming that this is a one-off exercise and it will not set a precedent for Android Oreo and such like in the future.

In the long run, Android is the clear winner as they have about a year to milk (until the next version) this association. Imagine, the Android name reaching out to millions of consumers (young and old) in the coming months through the KitKat bars. There are give aways too in terms of Nexus tablets. More importantly, it  goes a long way in creating a halo and  building strong affinity toward the Android brand.

On the flip side, it also means that everything is up for sale and nothing is sacred. While Google is known for its light hearted approach, especially with easter eggs and some fun ads promoting their services like Chrome, I couldn’t help get the feeling that this is a bit of a sellout. What say?

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