Video: Kit Kat’s Risky Word of Mouth Marketing Campaign

Kit Kat got a lot of flack from the Greenpeace brandjacking, yet, I wanted to point out a marketing campaign where they leveraged popular news mentions. What was interesting is they used a simple email and some doctored photos, on Good Friday in the Netherlands (a country in which 45% are not religious)

A few questions: When consumers find out this was a hoax, does this create distrust? Does tapping into market memes demonstrate being in tune with your market? Would it have only worked in a country where a large portion are not religious?

Whether sacrilegious or brilliant marketing, perhaps it can only work in the Netherlands –it would have never worked in the US, You be the judge, I look forward to hearing your comments. (link via Donald Lim, who shared this at the IMMAP workshop)

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  • I had only vaguely heard about that case before Donald talked about it during our IMMAP Workshop in Manila (http://paulpapadimitriou.com/immap-the-corporat…)

    It shows that brands and companies alike have to take into account cultures and sensibilities. The one-size-fits-all attitude that I sometimes see (local agencies just translating, not actually localizing content) sometimes leads to a disconnect or worse, to a negative reaction in some countries.

    A contrario, some campaigns used in the US would fall totally flat in other markets.

    I find the KitKat campaign brilliant, even if somewhat gimmicky. Then again, I was born and raised in Europe 🙂

  • I was always told that word of mouth is one of the best ways to get your business or product known and think this went and proved that! I think even religious people would have taken it with a pinch of salt, if they didn't then they need to take a break!

    I never came across this myself in blogs until now but obviously got round a lot of places, great bit of marketing from kitkat, think it would have worked a treat in the UK and most of Europe. You mentioned it now working in the US, I can see why you think that as you can get quite a few 'extreme religious' people but I still think it would have been a big hit in the US as well.

    Well done to kitkat I say.

  • I was always told that word of mouth is one of the best ways to get your business or product known and think this went and proved that! I think even religious people would have taken it with a pinch of salt, if they didn't then they need to take a break!

    I never came across this myself in blogs until now but obviously got round a lot of places, great bit of marketing from kitkat, think it would have worked a treat in the UK and most of Europe. You mentioned it now working in the US, I can see why you think that as you can get quite a few 'extreme religious' people but I still think it would have been a big hit in the US as well.

    Well done to kitkat I say.

  • Very Orson Wells'ish. Word of mouth is so powerful, even more so in modern times when information flows so fast.

  • Very Orson Wells'ish. Word of mouth is so powerful, even more so in modern times when information flows so fast.

  • The question here is, could they (and their agency) do it again? Thanks Damian.

  • The question here is, could they (and their agency) do it again? Thanks Damian.

  • Word of mouth is popular, but I've always been taught that you have to be careful how far you stray from the truth before you hurt your brand. I love the uniqueness and the fact that the team searched for something media consumers would latch onto, but I'm disturbed by the fact that KitKat had to fabricate such a myth.

  • Word of mouth is popular, but I've always been taught that you have to be careful how far you stray from the truth before you hurt your brand. I love the uniqueness and the fact that the team searched for something media consumers would latch onto, but I'm disturbed by the fact that KitKat had to fabricate such a myth.

  • I find the video so banal that I doubt many would stay with it to find if it was a hoax or not.

  • I find the video so banal that I doubt many would stay with it to find if it was a hoax or not.

  • I would say it's rather brilliant marketing, but you're right: it could only work in a country with such a high percentage of non religious people.

    Maybe Greenpeace will use something similar against KitKat someday 🙂

  • I would say it's rather brilliant marketing, but you're right: it could only work in a country with such a high percentage of non religious people.

    Maybe Greenpeace will use something similar against KitKat someday 🙂

  • poor Jesus must be feeling a little cross #HideousPun with KitKat after these dubious representations. Don't even get me started.

  • poor Jesus must be feeling a little cross #HideousPun with KitKat after these dubious representations. Don't even get me started.

  • Alex

    very smart….. like it

  • Alex

    very smart….. like it

  • Vp

    Disgusting.

  • Vp

    Disgusting.

  • I agree with Jim Edwards that this particular kind of social media campaign wouldn't succeed in the United States. I think its important to keep in mind the high profile examples of cartoon drawings of the Face of Muhammed in Europe, and the controversy surrounding the publication, to put the European position on satire and religion in perspective. I wonder how many of the same people who would find the Kit Kat Jesus campaign offensive here in the US supported the freedom of the press in Europe to publish the cartoons. I guess it is about social context as well as media.

    I'm not sure I agree with Edwards about what makes a social media campaign “truly” viral though,

    “For a video or site to go truly viral, the idea within it must be shocking, controversial, or silly enough to warrant everyone’s attention.”

  • I agree with Jim Edwards that this particular kind of social media campaign wouldn't succeed in the United States. I think its important to keep in mind the high profile examples of cartoon drawings of the Face of Muhammed in Europe, and the controversy surrounding the publication, to put the European position on satire and religion in perspective. I wonder how many of the same people who would find the Kit Kat Jesus campaign offensive here in the US supported the freedom of the press in Europe to publish the cartoons. I guess it is about social context as well as media.

    I'm not sure I agree with Edwards about what makes a social media campaign “truly” viral though,

    “For a video or site to go truly viral, the idea within it must be shocking, controversial, or silly enough to warrant everyone’s attention.”

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  • As Homer Simpson would say: sacrilicious. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUnH9NECSUU

  • As Homer Simpson would say: sacrilicious. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUnH9NECSUU

  • TheLiberalThug

    “such a high percentage of non religious people.”

    65% of the population as religious is very high! The figures here in the UK are much, much lower.

  • TheLiberalThug

    “such a high percentage of non religious people.”

    65% of the population as religious is very high! The figures here in the UK are much, much lower.

  • I think your right about this only being able to be pulled off in the Netherlands. This could have (and still might) create a huge backlash in North America, contrary to popular belief not all publicity is good publicity.

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  • Richard, the video is not the hoax. The video is the story of the hoax. Made by the people who carried out the hoax, Dutch agency UbachsWisbrun/JWT.

  • Phillip Svehla

    Great idea Kit Kat!! Original, cheap and effective marketing!!

  • very smart