3 Marketing Lessons You Can Learn from the KitKat Ad that Broke the Internet

What’s in this article:

  • Find out how one creative blew up social media with his unofficial Kit Kat ad
  • Improve your marketing creative with three lessons from his success
  • Learn why planned fun is so essential to high-quality creative work

The word creative is synonymous with fun — most of the time. But for many marketers, stress can drain the joy out of a job that is, at least on paper, paid creativity. And that lack of fun doesn’t just make the workday a drag: It also diminishes the quality of the work.

How can you harness fun to improve your marketing? The story of Sam Hennig, the creator of THAT Kit Kat ad, is a masterclass in better work through play. Read this post to learn the key lessons you can take from the viral phenomenon.

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How THAT unofficial Kit Kat ad went viral

One Minute Briefs is a Twitter account that posts daily advertising challenges to its followers. It’s a great way for designers and advertisers to learn, get inspired — and get exposure. It’s a lot of fun, and some of the work that comes out of the challenges is incredible.

In early February, the account shared the prompt, “Advertise your favorite chocolate bar.” Soon, one submission was all anyone could talk about:

The unofficial ad for Kit Kat tied the brand and the last year together with striking economy. How could a tagline, a moment in time, and the literal shape of a product connect so perfectly?

It might have been destiny.

But it was definitely viral.

Some of the ads LinkedIn shares earned hundreds of thousands of likes. Eventually, Kit Kat joined in the bonanza, adopting the grassroots creative into their own campaigns.

It’s hard not to be impressed — if not envious — of the elegance of Hennigs’s ad. Fortunately, there are some lessons all marketers can take from how the year’s best creative came together.

Lesson 1: Leave space for fun

Tech companies have known for years that employees can do great things when they have time to explore. Gmail, AdSense, and Google News all emerged from Google’s 20% project: an initiative requiring employees to dedicate a fifth of their time to exploring ideas that excited them.

While creativity is essential to a strong campaign, marketers rarely leave room in their schedule for the fun that makes creativity possible.

Hennig made time in his day to play around with the Twitter challenges. He took it as an opportunity to experiment, explore, and hone his craft. That space gave him the freedom to develop better and better work, eventually culminating in the Kit Kat creative.

The lesson? Engineer some off time for structured fun. It can definitely pay off.

Lesson 2: To get inspired, get out of your head

The central idea of the creative — a chocolate bar that looks like a meeting block — came by complete accident. Hennig explains, “I was scrolling through my calendar to have a look for when I could do the brief, and the idea came. ‘If I just block out that section there – bingo.”

Einstein, perhaps the world’s greatest thinker, generated many of his insights on walks or playing the violin. Instead of doubling his effort, the legendary scientist recognized that his brain could do much of the work if left alone.

As much as we like to think that thinking is the solution to all our creative problems, sometimes thinking is the problem.

Creativity on command is a difficult task for your brain. The free association needed for your best ideas is best done outside on the confines of your skull. So, the next time you face a particularly challenging problem and you’re not making much progress via the traditional route, why not go for a walk?

You might just find the perfect idea along the way.

Lesson 3: Genius comes from collaboration

Mad Men gave a face to the legend of the lone creative marketing genius, but the reality is more complicated. While Hennig’s inspiration was all his own, the version that went viral was a team effort.

Hennig’s original concept was strong: It featured the memorable chocolate bar and calendar combo:

But it lacked key features, most notably Kit Kat and Zoom.

It was Nicholas Tasker, a fellow creative-thinker, who came up with the idea to use Kit Kat. After a few more iterations, including Hennig’s inspiration to tack on the timely Zoom, the faux ad was ready to hit the stratosphere.

Creatives can kill themselves trying to reach perfection before showing their work, but sometimes all you need is the seed. Perfectionism is (often) self-imposed and almost always self-destructive, cutting you off from one of your most vital resources — other people.

Hennig’s stellar ad is a reminder that we can scarcely get enough of: Creativity thrives on collaboration.

The post 3 Marketing Lessons You Can Learn from the KitKat Ad that Broke the Internet appeared first on Post Funnel.


Online enterprenuer. Lean leadership consultant.

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