KitKat: Break me off a piece of that Google Android

Android 4.4, KitKat.

Google’s nicknaming the latest version of its Android operating system KitKat. The company has a cutesy habit of code-naming each Android release after a sweet of some kind.  And in true geek style, they do it in alphabetical order: Cupcake, Donut, Éclair, etc. This version required a “K”  and all bets were on Key Lime Pie.

“But you go with key lime pie and you’re kind of sitting there thinking about a bad dessert at a diner,” says branding executive Robert Passikoff.

That’s partly why Google went with KitKat. It’s a favorite late-night snack among the 20-somethings who toil at the company. At first, Android executives didn’t even know who owned the candy bar. They found out and ended up cold-calling Nestle to see if the Swiss firm would be interested. Two days later, they had a hush-hush international deal.

Anna Lingeris at Hershey’s, which makes Kit Kats in the U.S., was ordered to keep the big candy news under wraps. “The U.S. team has actively been working on this for about 9 or 10 months in secret with a core team of about 30 people,” says Lingeris.

Lingeris says it’s a no-money-exchanged, cross-promotional sort of deal. There will be Kit Kats with Android’s green robot on the wrapper; an Android mascot statue made of Kit Kats on Google’s front lawn; prizes; and even an Android KitKat 4.4 ad that slyly makes fun of competitor Apple.

Today Lingeris proclaimed Kit Kat and Android natural partners. They’re both innovators, after all. Take the Kit Kat mini. “We took that iconic Kit Kat bar that everybody knows and loves.  Those fingers, the taste, the texture, the crispiness of the wafers and we miniaturized it,” says Lingeris.

Not to mention all the different flavors Kit Kat makes just for the Japanese market.  Wasabi Kit Kat, anyone?

 Now that’s innovation, Silicon Valley.

About the author

Sarah Gardner is a reporter on the Marketplace sustainability desk.

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