KitKat brand awareness at 5-year high following landmark Google tie-up

Nestle has revealed that consumer awareness for its KitKat brand is at a five-year high as a direct result of a tie-up with Googlewhich saw it rebrand wrappers and work with YouTuber Marcus Butler on a series of films.

Encouraging consumers to take ‘a YouTube break’, it embarked on a complete redesign of 600,000 KitKat bars the UK – the first time it had ever rebranded its packaging at that scale. Meanwhile, a tie-up with YouTuber Marcus Butler – whose channel has over four million subscribers – saw the creation of an online campaign that asked people to use Google’s voice search feature to search for ‘KitKat YouTube my break’ to find trending videos.

Speaking at IAB’s Digital Upfronts today (21 October), Nestle UK’s biscuits division boss, Haseeb-ur Rahman, said that the campaign was born from the realisation it was failing to reach the 18-35 audience.

“Millennials are a tough audience and the challenge is that they are not convinced by modern advertising. So it wasn’t just about reaching them, but doing so in a language they understand," he said.

The statement dovetails with YouTube's messaging at its Brandcast event last week, where it told brands they need to shift up to 24 per cent of their TV budgets into the channel in order to reach the demographic.

Nestle as a whole has ramped up efforts in recent months to do this. The consolidation and migration of its Nescafe websites to Tumblr to foster a collaborative approach to communications is proof of the investment it’s making to attract a new generation of consumers.

When it comes to KitKat, Rahman admitted the brand's marketing focus was embedded in traditional channels and it was “getting left behind” as consumption habits changed.

“Classically if you think about FMCG, it’s been a paid model. But it’s not working any more. We’re not engaging, we’re not getting the equity and response that we want. Paid, owned and earned was something we weren’t used to but we crossed a border this year,” he said.

Results exceeded expectations against its two KPI’s – more sales and better awareness. While he didn’t go into detail, Rahman revealed: “Sales have grown significantly, shares have grown significantly, equity attributes have grown, affinity has grown and awareness is the highest in five years. So when I add that up and go to my leadership team I get a lot of support to go out and continue.”

The result will be music to Google boss' ears as it ramps up efforts to eat into TV's dominance of the media mix.

However, while the FMCG-giant has upped its marketing spend (by 17 per cent globally) and given brand managers like Rahman the autonomy to experiment with media-buys, it has thus far failed to turn around an ongoing slump across its product portfolio after drop in both sales and profit.

Efforts will continue in earnest though. Last week, Nestle's digital boss Pete Blackshaw reaffirmed its commitment to baking digital into the business, saying he's working to resolve the tensions between wariness of investing too heavily in experimentation and "shaking up the house to drive innovation"

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