Google Gave Kit Kat the World’s Best Free Marketing Campaign

This afternoon brings news that Google‘s latest Android operating system will indeed be known as Kit Kat—a name borrowed, with enthusiastic permission, from the familiar Hershey‘s candy.

In other words, it’s a great day for anyone doing PR or marketing for Kit Kat (which we always found to be a little on the dry side, but to each his own).

Here’s the most interesting part about this new partnership: it’s not a paid promotion.

Google has a history of naming its Android OS after desserts, but this is the first time the company has taken its name from a branded product. The G team apparently made the decision due to the companies’ mutual respect for one another—and the fact that the previously proposed name, Key Lime Pie, sounds a little weird. Here’s Google’s explanation:

KitKat has been a favorite candy on the team for some time, so for the K release, we asked if they’d be willing to lend their iconic candy bar to its name.

Again, no money changed hands in the deal, so it would seem that Google just gave Kit Kat a whole lot of free publicity, not to mention a readymade marketing campaign. Kit Kat wins a great tech story, a weighty endorsement, a new limited edition “Android” product with related social media contest and a statue in front of Google headquarters. Google gets…well, we’re not sure, really. A more recognizable name for its product?

The BBC argues that the deal carries potential pitfalls for both brands in case one finds itself embroiled in a scandal or, as Nestle’s top marketer points out, the new OS gets a bad reception from the public. But we think that’s a bit of a long shot, and Nestle didn’t hesitate to jump right in after the announcement went public. Good job enforcing the embargo on this story, by the way—the two brands made the decision way back in November 2012 but bloggers didn’t find it before today.

Interesting fact: did you know that Kit Kat is only marketed by Hershey within the U.S.? Competitor Nestle owns the licensing rights everywhere else in the world.