It Also Means ‘Surely Deep-Fried Cutlet’

    April 26, 2006

Seth points to an article about “how KitKat became number one.”

The two quotes from the article linked above that raised my hackles:

“Year 3: Some ads began to appear. They didn’t look like ads. They were cute little stories about teachers, mothers, students and the lucky charm. The ads were fiction, but real Japanese moms began packing KitKats for their kids when they left home to take the exams.

Year 4: Real people began to appear in the ads that didn’t look like ads. No product was ever shown. Just a subtle little KitKat logo.”

This is why marketers are distrusted.

Now, I’ve got some questions. I did a quick Google search on kitto katsu, and came up with only about 700 hits. Almost all of those were references to this story. (Granted, most “real” references would most likely be in Kanji, and therefore not picked up by Google. But still.)

As best as I could tell, very few of the references were actually people wishing each other luck, except in the context of this story. Wouldn’t you think that if this were a “real” phrase that had been around for a while, it would be in more common usage?

I’m not a Japanese speaker, although I can order the nihon biiru with the best of them. I am willing to admit that kitto katsu, as a phrase, now may be being used in the manner described in the article above. But I wonder: did kitto katsu, as a phrase, exist in the language before KitKat’s marketing machine began pushing this story? Or did some marketing suit look up kitto and katsu, and create the phrase in order to push the product?

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Christopher Carfi, CEO and co-founder of Cerado, looks at sales, marketing, and the business experience from the customers point of view. He currently is focused on understanding how emerging social technologies such as blogs, wikis, and social networking are enabling the creation of new types of customer-driven communities. He is the author of the Social Customer Manifesto weblog, and has been occasionally told that he drives and snowboards just a little too quickly.