idsgn (a design blog)

Crowdsourced branding, a disaster for Kraft?

Comments: +

October 15 2009

Vegemite "Name Me" (Photo: mattbraga, Flickr)

When Kraft launched a spin-off of their uniquely Australian Vegemite spread, they turned to consumers for a name… and it was dropped four days later. Last week another name was announced, can Kraft make it right this time?

The year was 1923 when chemist Cyril Callister took out a newspaper ad announcing his new food invention, a salty yeast extract spread made from the by-products of beer manufacturing, and a £50 award for the best name. Similar to the British Marmite, the sticky brown paste has become a staple in the country, selling more than 22 million jars per year. Over 85 years later, Kraft Foods followed Callister’s plan to name a new milder variation—a Vegemite and cream cheese blend—with much less fanfare.

“Now all it needs is a name,” Kraft launched the new product with a TV commercial by JWT Australia.

iSnack 2.0

Kraft Foods launched an Australia-wide contest in June 2009, putting the product on grocery shelves with special “Name Me” packaging. Over 48,000 entries came in across the country during the three-month contest, (somehow) resulting in the name ‘iSnack 2.0.’

Announced September 26th during the 2009 Australian Football League Grand Final, the name was chosen by a panel of marketing and communication experts in an effort to market the longtime staple to the younger ‘iPod’ generation. Replacing the temporary packaging, the new labels were printed with the tagline: “iSnack 2.0, because it's the next generation Vegemite.”

The name was coined by Dean Robbins, a 27-year-old web designer:

It was all a bit tongue-in-cheek really, the ‘i’ phenomenon and Web 2.0 have been recent revolutions, and I thought the new Vegemite name could do the same.


Left: Original Vegemite spread (Photo: StephenMitchell, Flickr); Right: Packaging for iSnack 2.0 and the “Name Me” contest (Photo: avlxyz, Flickr)

Cheesybite, Vegefail

Within days, criticism was heard all over Australia, especially among the product’s tech-savvy target market who took to YouTube and Twitter (making #Vegefail a trending topic). “The new name has simply not resonated with Australians. Particularly the modern technical aspects associated with it,” Kraft said in a statement on September 30th. The controversial name was discontinued only four days after its launch.

Our Kraft Foods storeroom currently has thousands of jars of the iSnack 2.0 named Vegemite. This product will be distributed around Australia, and will continue to be sold in supermarkets for months to come – until Australia decides upon a new name.

Nameless once again, Kraft scrambled to short-list another six names and let the public decide. Polling more than 30,000 people, Kraft announced the product’s newest name on October 7th: ‘Vegemite Cheesybite,’ which captured 36% of the votes (although many chose ‘none of the above’ and were not included in the vote).


Left: Vegemite Cheesybite, Kraft’s third and (hopefully) last packaging for the new product; Right: Results from Kraft’s survey

The name ‘Cheesymite’ was never considered, due to its popular use for another cheesy Vegemite-based snack in Australia and New Zealand. However it has been reported the name Cheesybite might come with its own legal can of worms (just what they need).

The new Cheesybite jars will replace the iSnack variation in the coming months.

What does this say about the brand?

Kraft assures us this is not a publicity stunt, “We are proud custodians of Vegemite and have always been aware that it is the people's brand and a national icon.” Regardless, the publicity has the remaining iSnack-branded jars flying off grocery shelves and making their way onto eBay as “rare collector’s items.”

Some have said this incident has damaged the Vegemite brand in Australia. No one can deny iSnack 2.0 was a terrible choice—it says nothing about the product, and even the thought of it makes anyone who’s ever used an iPod roll their eyes (who were these marketing “experts” that handpicked the name from over 48,000 entries, anyway?).

But after all this, one thing is very clear: Australians are passionate about the Vegemite brand (and that’s what every brand wants).

Filed under: branding

By Skylar Challand