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We put brands on everything.
Think about it this way: we put brands on everything and we're putting the Internet into everything. It's true. Brands will put their name on baseball stadiums, water bottles, the bottom of that plastic bin that we put our shoes into at airport security, and they're even putting them in public toilet bowls. Anything to get attention. The Internet is being dumped into everything and anything that can be plugged in (or wirelessly enabled). Computers were just the beginning. Now the Internet is being plugged into phones, tablets, watches, refrigerators, barbeque thermometers, exercise monitoring wristbands, farming equipment, cameras and beyond (welcome to The Internet of Things). Marketers haven't been negligent in this regard. You can't see something on the Internet without it being surrounded in ads, sponsored by a brand or even created by a brand as a means to do something more than saturate the public with advertising.
So, if you can put a brand anywhere....
Why not put it on an operating system? It raised some eyebrows this past week when Google announced that the upcoming version of their Android mobile operating system will be named KitKat (the seminal chocolate bar from from Nestle). Android has been using names of delicious deserts and sugary snacks since Cupcake in 2009. Moving down the line alphabetically, they are now at the letter "K" (Jellybean was the most recent version). What makes this deal that much more fascinating, is that both Google and Nestle are portraying it as something more closely tied to partnership marketing than corporate sponsorship marketing. According to the Advertising Age article, Google Names Android Version KitKat, But No Cash Exchanged, "Stewart Dryburgh, an assistant VP at Nestle who oversees global marketing for Kit Kat, said the fact that no money exchanged hands was an 'acid test [for] how confident both parties were in each other.' He said there is an 'equal amount of equity to be shared out of this.' The parties began negotiating in January and closed the deal at in Barcelona a couple months later at a Mobile World Congress meeting." Imagine that, a win-win for both brands with no need to exchange money.
A valuable expression about the power of impressions.
The Kit Kat website has already been updated to reflect this marketing opportunity. The media attention (in terms of PR) has been off the charts. For Google, it maintains its position as a playful and whimsical brand in a technology space that is - all too often - proliferated with industry jargon and engineer talk. For Kit Kat, a brand that has been around since the 18th century (not a typo), it gives them not only a rejuvenation and some cool factor, but something new and different to market in an impulse buy - low interest space. The fact that money isn't a part of this transaction makes it all that much more interesting. For my advertising dollar, the most interesting aspect is still the one of impressions. This is still, ultimately, a game of impressions. It is advertising in the purest sense. Google's brand looks whimsical. Kit Kat's brand looks more relevant and hip. If you don't think that this is a game of impressions, just check out this news item from Business Insider: Android Activations Hit 1 Billion. That's right, while many people may not know the implications of over 1 billion activations on the Android platform, this is still a staggering number. There are now over 1 billion people who have Android activated devices in the marketplace. Out of those 1 billion activated devices, it's hard to say which users, actually know or care about the fact that there is some kind of operating system with a name like Kit Kat attributed to it, still this is a massive game of massive impressions for two massive brands.
Size and reputation matters.
Whether this lives on to be anything more than a press release with a couple of co-branded contests in chocolate bar wrappers is a whole other story. In a world of Twitter feeds and chasing Facebook likes, it is moments like this (and the Super Bowl), when we are reminded about what can happen when you have a brand of size and depth. As a marketing professional, the more interesting point is that we can create new and interesting ways of making those big impressions create an equally big splash. It's hard to imagine that a chocolate bar got naming rights to a mobile operating system. It seems insane to even write that last sentence. That just happened. It means that a whole lot more of new and interesting doors may be opening up for marketers that are creative enough to create them.
Keep those marketing ears open, folks. Opportunities are abound.