MANILA – Nestlé KitKat Philippines struck social media gold with its real-time response to what many netizens consider a catastrophe: a Facebook outage.

At around 4 p.m. Philippine time on June 19, users in several countries were unable to access Facebook, and were instead met by an error message: “Sorry, something went wrong… We’re working on getting this fixed as soon as we can.”

Going against the brand’s own ‘Have a break’ tagline, KitKat’s social media team from MRM Worldwide Manila were quick to come up with this witty tweet:

The post got 1,100+ retweets in less than 30 minutes, according to Arjohn Yabut, social media community manager at MRM Worldwide Manila. Nearly 24 hours later, the post has been retweeted over 2,000 times.

Yabut shared with adobo that he actually wasn’t at his desk when Facebook was down. Upon his return, the team was tasked by community director Maebel Chan to create adaptive content for their brands’ Twitter pages. “In less than two minutes (with the help of pressure) I came up with a copy, ‘Look who’s having a BREAK right now’,” he said. They were able to post the tweet right away, thanks to the team’s agreement with Nestlé, which is basically that they do what’s best for the brand. “As long as the agency follows the brand and social media guidelines, it should be okay,” he said.

It was a well-timed success for Yabut, who handles social media for three Nestlé brands. “It’s just luck, I guess. That morning pa naman, I was questioning myself kasi (because) since I handle three brands, nauubusan na ko ng (I’m already running out of) daily content. I don’t know where to get inspiration,” he said.

Apart from luck, Yabut added that the brand itself was the reason for the success. “Ang sarap kasi isipan ng content si KitKat (It’s nice to come up with content for KitKat). Plus the clients, they possess the brand personality! Kung fun si KitKat, fun din talaga yung clients (If KitKat is fun, the clients are also fun). Fun, playful, parang (like a) friend.” 

He said they were expecting to get more than the usual engagement, but not as much as they did. “50 retweets to 100, okay na yun (that would have been okay already). Pero sobrang umabot na siya ng 1,000+ yesterday, hindi na ako mapakali (But it reached over 1,000 yesterday, I can’t stay still),” said Yabut.

Facebook itself played along, with the Facebook Africa team responding with a photo of themselves holding up some KitKat.

The brand’s real time marketing stunt grabbed quite a bit of attention, perhaps diverting disgruntled Facebook users until Facebook came back online about half an hour later.

Last year, Kraft Foods-owned Oreo ruled online with its ‘dunk in the dark’ tweet during the Super Bowl blackout. The ad, which was captioned “Power out? No problem.” was up within minutes of the blackout, thanks to quick thinking (of digital marketing agency 360i) and quick approval (from the Oreo executives), as reported on BuzzFeed.  

Both brands have been praised for their real time marketing know-how, and at one point engaged in a short-lived but very clever online game of tic-tac-toe for a chocolate lover’s affection.