The Deconstructed Brief

Delayed Flight Break Machine


Brand: KIT KAT
Agency: J. Walter Thompson Brazil


KIT KAT has relied on the same slogan — “Have a break”— for over half a century. The brand’s encouragement has undergone a variety of implementations and transformations; however, the central idea remains the same. This concept of an indulgent and rewarding moment of relaxation competes with hundreds of other products investing millions of dollars into convincing consumers of their need for a sweet, sugary treat. KIT KAT needed to find a new way to keep the slogan fresh and stay ahead in the battle for consumers’ attention. Recent efforts have focused on a strategy of moment marketing; however, a hyper-competitive category calls for a more interesting answer.

Key insight

Breaks are most appreciated during the worst moments.  


The Delayed Flight Break Machine dispensed free KIT KATs to individuals with delayed flights. It debuted in Congonhas Airport (São Paulo) during Brazil’s Labor Day holiday (May 1), one of the most-traveled holidays of the year. The vending machine’s connection to the airport’s data system allowed it to scan boarding passes, recognize if flights were delayed and deliver candy bars to the appropriate individuals.
J. Walter Thompson (JWT) and KIT KAT have developed successful campaigns from the brand’s “Have a break” slogan for over 60 years. The company remains innovative with the slogan and continues to identify new ways to implement its campaigns — consider break benches and vending machines in Paraguay or celebrity remixes of the iconic jingle — that refresh key ideas while remaining true to central principles.

Lessons to be learned:


  • Data-driven solutions — The Delayed Flight Break Machine used the data available as a guiding force behind the creative implementation consumers experienced. Accurate data allowed KIT KAT to target the right consumers at the right time and facilitated the success of the vending machine.

    Holidays represent an idyllic opportunity to escape the stressors and responsibilities of everyday work and home life.  Destinations range, but the intention remains the same: rest, relaxation and stress relief. The process of getting there, however, often becomes a significant source of frustration and aggravation — anything but what one expects of a vacation. Delayed flights represent the pinnacle of possible travel woes and can disrupt an entire vacation.

    Research proves that higher stress levels equal a greater propensity to snack — particularly on sugary snacks. A quarter (26%) of consumers state that they use snacking as a direct form of stress relief. JWT used observational data to identify and select the opportune moment for connection and position itself at a key crossroad: the moment a person was most desperate for a break and most vulnerable to a quick junk food fix.
  • Opportune moments — Capitalizing on key moments in consumers’ days presents the opportunity for a lasting connection. Temperatures reaching critical heights for thirsty diners? Lower beer prices — or offer them for free.  Seeing #Mondayblues popping up on social media? Develop a tequila water fountain designed to make the day pass a little easier.

    KIT KAT saw the opportunity to give stranded travelers a moment of unexpected happiness during what could be one of the most difficult events of their trip. The juxtaposition between the two experiences establishes a powerful, positive association between the consumer and the brand that will remain in an individual’s memory.  
  • Small gestures — KIT KAT didn’t give delayed travelers new flights or free vouchers to a new destination; there was no grand gesture that solved any of their legitimate problems. A small action, representative of the overall sentiment, sufficed to solidify the company’s intention and create a connection with consumers at the opportune moment.
  • Emotions reign — More and more consumers — particularly of the younger set — endeavor to take time for themselves. KIT KAT maintains an advantageous connection with this idea through its “Have a break” tagline. Pursuing the emotional benefit its product imparts capitalizes on consumers’ movement toward self-care. More Millennials reported making personal improvement commitments than any generation before them. They spend twice as much as Boomers do on self-care essentials, such as workout regimens, diet plans, life coaching, therapy and apps to improve their personal well-being. According to a survey by wellness tech company Shine, a majority (72%) of Millennial women are moving away from solely physical and financial goals to make self-care and mental health their priority.