Google unveiled its new Android mobile operating system, Android KitKat, Sept 9.
Since 2009, Google has named their Android operating systems after desserts. They started with Cupcake and moved through the alphabet. Android KitKat, the latest sweet title is the first to use the name of a branded product. Google didn’t pay Nestle to use the company’s trademark, according to John Lagerling, director of Android global partnerships, in an interview with the BBC. Rather, the companies entered a cross-promotion partnership.
Google and Nestle, a Hershey company, launched a campaign to promote Android KitKat. According to a Hershey press release, the Kit Kat brand and Google will offer a chance to win Nexus 7 tablets, Google Play $5 credits and coupons for free 8 ounce bags of Kit Kat Minis through codes inside more than 50 million specially branded Kit Kat bars that now feature the Android robot. Also, Nestle plans to keep fans up to date through new social media sites Kit Kat USA Facebook and Kit Kat USA Google+.
From a public relations perspective, the Google/Nestle partnership can be evaluated through three lenses: publicity, branding and reputation.
Looking at publicity, the announcement of the partnership made headlines because it was unexpected. Patrick Coffee argued that “Google gave Kit Kat the world’s best free marketing campaign,” in his PRNewser article. Before Tuesday, Google was referring to its new operating system as Key Lime Pie and its followers were expecting the OS to be released under that name. The Android KitKat plan was kept secret and, in turn, the launch was a big conversation starter.
The campaign is focused on branding the new Google product and creating something memorable. Google and Nestle created a relationship between their brands with this product launch. It hasn’t been determined if the companies looked at how their brand identities compare, but it is inevitable that others will.
The potential problem, pointed out in the BBC story, is how the companies’ reputations might affect each other. Nestle most recently recalled its Purina ONE dog food because of a salmonella outbreak. Nestle has also faced scandal surrounding a boycott of its Kit Kat candy bars because they contain palm oil, an ingredient that Greenpeace claims is destructive to the Indonesian rainforest and harms orangutans.
It’s important for companies to know their stakeholders, stay updated and research before associating with another brand. To what extent do you think Google’s partnership with Nestle affects its reputation? Is it possible that Kit Kat competitors will perceive Google negatively? Was cross promoting a good move for Nestle and Google?