The History Of The Kit Kat Slogan
Anyone who has ever nibbled on a piece of chocolate will confirm that the best chocolate confection is Nestlé’s Kit Kat – a wafer bar of four “fingers” covered with dark chocolate.
From its origins in the county of York in the United Kingdom 87 years ago, Nestlé’s Kit Kat has not only remained a much-loved chocolate snack the world over, but it has also created marketing history, and shaped marketing as we know it today, with just seven words – “Have A Break, Have A Kit Kat”!
Let us now explore how one of the most famous slogans in advertising history was created, and how it has become a part of folklore – a lifestyle statement that can be adapted to any and every situation!
Kit Kat – the background
The Kit Kat bar was first launched by Rowntree on 29 August 1935 as “Chocolate Crisp” and was sold only in London and the south of England.
An employee at the York factory of Rowntree suggested developing a “chocolate bar that a man could take to work in his pack up”. This led to the development of the four-finger version of the bar. The two-finger bar was launched a little over a year later, in 1936.
The bar was rebranded as Kit Kat Chocolate Crisp in 1937, and just “Kit Kat” at the end of the Second World War.
In its early years, the basic recipe of Kit Kat was simply cookies and milk chocolate. During the Second World War, the lack of dairy products such as milk forced the company to change its product composition. The standard brand colors (red and white) and the use of milk chocolate recovered in 1949, after the war ended.
Kit Kat reached foreign shores for the first time in 1950 when it was launched in Canada, South Africa and Australia. It was launched in Japan and the US In 1970, and today it is consumed in more than 70 countries worldwide.
Nestlé now owns the Kit Kat brand worldwide after it acquired the Rowntree company in 1988. In the United States, It is produced under license by the Hershey Company’s H. B. Reese Candy Company. The standard bar comprises two or four pieces, each of which is made up of three layers of wafer separated by a chocolate layer. Each finger on the bar can be broken off individually. Kit Kats come in different flavors, including milk, dark and white chocolate.
“Have A Break, Have A Kit Kat” – how advertising history was made!
Every brand tries to have a memorable slogan or tagline. This not only helps engage its customers but also provides a trigger for associations with the brand, which in turn leads to more sales!
There are many such iconic slogans in the marketing world – “Just Do It” (Adidas), “A Diamond Is Forever” (DeBeers Diamonds), “The Ultimate Driving Machine” (BMW) and more. But the most famous slogan, the oldest such slogan, which has been unchanged since it was launched, is undoubtedly “Have A Break, Have A Kit Kat” by Kit Kat!
Donald Gilles, an advertising executive in the well-known agency JWT in London, coined the “Have a Break, Have a Kit Kat” slogan in 1957. It was first aired on television in a UK advertisement in 1958 and has remained the slogan for the brand in the UK and other markets since then. In the US, the brand uses a jingle for television – “Gimme a break, Gimme a break, Break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar!”
The term “Break” has a dual meaning that aligned it perfectly with the product – “Break” (meaning the typical sound when you break the bar) and “Break” meaning “to rest”. This double meaning would become the core concept of the slogan “Have a Break”.
This slogan elevated the chocolate confection from a mere snack to an iconic lifestyle statement that has stood the test of time!
The flexibility of the slogan
“Have A Break, Have A Kit Kat” is mandatory in all Kit Kat advertising. As the slogan gained traction among consumers agency creatives applied great imagination to fit the concept and the slogan to all kinds of situations.
This application of “Have a Break” in various situations is the key to its longevity. The concept is so strong that it established the modern marketing concepts that we use today. “Have a Break” urged consumers to push away from daily struggles and worries and live for themselves, even for a moment!
The global spread of “Have A Break, Have A Kit Kat”
Kit Kat has launched advertising campaigns with this slogan in over 70 countries. In the United States, the jingle “Gimme A Break” was created in 1986 to appeal to the American public. It became an immediate hit, and multiple versions of this song have been developed over time.
In Australia, Kit Kat is associated with the children’s TV program “Thunderbirds”, associating the song “Thunderbirds Are Go” with one of the actors taking a Kit Kat break.
Association with Android – leap into the digital world
In September 2013, Google and Nestlé announced that version 4.4 of the Android mobile OS owned by Google would be branded “KitKat”. Google and Nestlé ran promotions in various countries with “Android Kit Kat chocolate bars” launched in the market to allow customers to win Google Nexus 7 mobile phones and credits for the Google Play Store. This was a superb example of a unique brand association to make it a household name and give instant recall!
And to conclude
Kit Kat’s slogan “Have a Break, Have A Kit Kat” is a global phenomenon, and will probably remain firmly embedded in customers’ minds. Nestlé tried to change the advertising but pulled back the idea when it realized that the consumers still wanted classic ads.
In today’s hyper-digital world where immediate gratification and the growth of new trends almost daily, this slogan has withstood the movement of time and remains the bedrock of Nestlé’s global brand strategy even today.