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The history of Kit Kat slogan “Have a Break, Have a Kit Kat”

Story of Kit Kat slogan

Kit Kat slogan has been with us for over 80 years. Know the story of one of the most famous slogans in advertising history.

In the world of advertising and marketing, there are brands that have been faithful to its principles since its fondation. We are talking about centuries-old brands that are iconic. We always think of the same companies: Coca-Cola, Nike, Apple, Absolute or Audi, the “Hall of fame” of advertising. But there is a slogan that has always been with us, and that is older than the any other in the world. We talk about Kit Kat slogan: “Have a Break, Have a Kit Kat”. A slogan for a chocolates brand founded in 1957 in York (United Kingdom).

After learning the story behind the Nike slogan and the history of the Adidas logo, today we will review the story of Kit Kat’s slogan.

Kit Kat’s history

Ronwtree's Chocolates

We are located in the 1920s in York, UK. The Rowentree company had registered the names “Kit Cat” and “Kit Kat” in honor of the “Kit-Kat Club”, a pub where the seventeenth-century political and literary associations met by Christopher Cat. Under the name ” Kit Cat” introduced a box of chocolates on the market that would not last long in stores due to the turmoil of the time.

The company kept launching differents products until an employee used the company’s suggestion box to publicize his idea: A chocolate bar that a worker could carry comfortably in his workplace. Rowentree took the idea and in 1935 began to market a wafer covered in chocolate under the name of Rowntree’s Chocolate Crisp, with the colors white and red dominating its packaging. The product, light and easy to consume, boosted its sales to become the leader in its sector. It was not until 1937 that the snack began to sell under the name of Kit Kat Chocolate Wrisp beginning to introduce the oval design of its logo.

Brand’s Evolution

Productos Kit Kat a lo largo de su historia

During the first years of the product’s life, Kit Kat’s basic recipe consisted of milk chocolate and cookies. But the Second World War changed the composition due to the lack of dairy in the United Kingdom. During the time, the product changed the red from the packaging for blue, and milk for dark chocolate, as well as a small modification for the final dessert: The “Cholcolate Wrisp” tagline disappeared and since then it was known as Kit Kat. The colors red and white, as well as milk chocolate, would recover in 1949 once the war was over.

The product did not leave the UK until 1950, when it reached Australia, South Africa, and Canada. In 1970 it landed in the United States and Japan, until it reached the more than 70 countries where it is consumed today.

A new slogan was born “Have a Break, Have a Kit Kat” 

The story of Kit Kat’s slogan “Have a Break” have a chief thinker: Donald Gilles at the JWT London advertising agency in May 1957. The term “Break” has a double meaning that suited it perfectly to the product. “Break” to break (alluding to the characteristic sound when you break the bar) and “Break” to rest. This double meaning would become the backbone of the slogan with “Have a Break”.

A year later it began to be used in the brand’s first television commercials. Since then, it has been a staple in Kit Kat’s advertising campaigns. As the slogan consolidated, creatives found enormous flexibility in the concept. The benefits of taking a break could be applied to all kinds of hilarious, stressful and comical situations.

"Have a Break" Kit Kat

The flexibility of “Have a Break” was key in its longevity. What other companies took years to achieve like Nike and its “Just Do It” or Adidas with “Impossible is Nothing” Donald Gilles achieved thanks to the double meaning of the word “Break”. Unwittingly, in 1957 they devised a concept so powerful that it laid the foundation for modern marketing. It marked a before and after in the advertising vocabulary, a benefit that the product “forced” the consumer to make. “Have a Break”, rest from everything you do, rest from the world, take a moment for yourself and for no one else.

Its evolution over time

Due to the characteristics of each country, Kit Kat’s slogan was shaped over time. In the United States, for example, they added a more instructive but much heavier line. This is how “Give Yourself to Kit Kat” (Give yourself a break) began to dominate the brand’s commercials.

Historically, the claim was related to taking a break from work and getting a break. But later it was used to relate the brand to the world of sports. In 2010, for example, the JWT agency released a specific ad just after the longest tennis match in history. The match lasted 11 hours of play and John Isner beat Nicolas Mahut 70-80 in the final set.

Have a Break | Kit Kat

The slogan around the world

Since the “Have a Break” was created, the brand has adapted its motto to more than 70 countries and has carried out advertising campaigns consistent with the brand image. In the United States a jingle was made to tailor advertising campaigns to the American public. “Gimme a Break” was made in 1986 and was created by Carrie Underwood and Shawn Colvin. It became an instant hit related to the brand. Countless versions and adaptations have been made over this song over time.

Many of the advertising campaigns became worldwide successes. One of the most prominent is the “Heaven and Hell” advertisement where we saw an angel and a devil taking a breather from their work.

In Australia, the brand was previously advertised to the children’s classic “Thunderbirds” versioning the song “Thunderbirds Are Go” with one of the protagonists taking a break Kit Kat.

The ad for the pandas at the Zoo and the photographer who was hoping to immortalize the moment was considered the 30th best ad out of Channel 4’s 100 best ads in 2000.

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The story of Kit Kat’s slogan “Have a Break” has undoubtedly become a worldwide claim and is one of the most perishable in time. Nestlé once tried to make a change in advertising but quickly saw that the public still wanted classic ads. In times where immediacy and adapting to new trends is fashion, having Kit Kat maintain its slogan as the head of its entire global strategy means that there is still hope for good ideas in advertising.


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