Evan Wilt became internet famous in May for not knowing how to properly eat a Kit Kat, biting into all four bars at once instead of breaking them apart. Yet less than two months later, the brand forgave the miscue and helped him propose to girlfriend Haley Byrd.
Kit Kat reached out to Wilt in June after Byrd posted a picture on Twitter showing that he had bitten into the chocolate bar without properly breaking it into four pieces first. He claimed it was his first time eating a Kit Kat, but that wasn’t enough for many social media users. The tweet went viral, garnering 4,000 retweets and 35,000 likes.
"I don’t think I’ve ever had a Kit Kat before," my boyfriend remarks before doing THIS pic.twitter.com/UQbuD3Etpg— Haley Byrd (@byrdinator) June 1, 2018
"Seriously, who bites a Kit Kat?" was the initial reaction of the chocolate company’s comms team, said Anna Lingeris, earned media and brand publicity lead at Kit Kat parent The Hershey Company.
Kit Kat wasn’t the only one judging Wilt. The post received thousands of comments urging Byrd to dump Wilt at once. Kit Kat’s communications team reached out to him to ask about working with the brand on a "fun" response to the backlash, said Lingeris.
"While we were batting around ideas with him, [Wilt] shared that he was planning to propose," Lingeris said. "After the ribbing he received online from fans calling for [Byrd] to dump him because of the way he ate his Kit Kat, we thought he’d been such a good sport about it that he deserved a little break and some help to make his proposal special."
Hershey’s comms team was focused on "doing right by" the couple, and staffers were "paranoid" they would ruin the surprise, she said.
"We asked [Wilt] what email was secure and what was the best number to call," said Lingeris. "We wanted to make sure we didn’t let the cat out of the bag."
Hershey also wanted to avoid overtly inserting the brand into the couple’s big moment. It provided a Kit Kat cake and ring box for the occasion.
"We asked [Wilt] what he wanted to do," said Lingeris. "He is the one who came up with the idea to create the custom Kit Kat ring box. We thought this was brilliant, and we quickly found a 3D printer that could make this a reality."
Although its association with Wilt started on social media, the brand felt it was only right for the couple to share the news about their engagement first, and in a way that was right for them. They posted pictures of the engagement on Twitter this week, followed by Kit Kat.
He still doesn’t know how to eat a Kit Kat pic.twitter.com/hEOzmWqAMY— Haley Byrd (@byrdinator) July 4, 2018
Wondering how @EvanWilt_ popped the question to @byrdinator in a Kit Kat? From 3D printing to a lil Kit Kat magic, we were happy to give him a break and help with his proposal! Congrats again you two ?????? pic.twitter.com/qzOxvHGZm8— Kit Kat (@KitKat_US) July 4, 2018
This campaign was a joint effort between Kit Kat’s internal team and agency partners Ketchum, which handles PR, and Anomaly, which manages social media. Budget information was not disclosed.
The response on social has been "overwhelmingly positive" from fans and the media, said Lingeris. Outlets such as USA Today and ABC have also covered the engagement, which also became a Twitter moment on July 4.
Why get involved in a such a personal moment? Kit Kat joined in because the brand "is all about breaks," explained Lingeris.
"What initially started as a viral story about the wrong vs. right way to eat a Kit Kat morphed into this awesome moment," she said. "We were happy to play a small role and help a guy who deserved a break after all the shots he took on social [to] propose. It felt like the right thing to do."