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Vegemite: Kraft's Relaunch Leads to Top Global Brand Affinity
By: Jeff Louis
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Sometimes the past is filled with wonderful memories of friends, music, good times and lots of laughter. Or, the past should remain exactly where it is, especially when remembering you sense of fashion, your bodily piercings, and that mullet with the spiked top that would never go out of style. If you remember the mullet, do you recall these lyrics?

Buying bread from a man in Brussels He was six foot four and full of muscles I said, "Do you speak-a my language?" He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich"

By: Men At Work, "A Land Down Under

What in the heck is Vegemite, anyway? Vegemite is similar to the British product Marmite, which is a tacky paste, brown in color, with a salty "beef broth" or "meaty-like taste." Marmite is usually spread on toast or biscuits but can also be mixed with hot water to make a drink. Marmite is made out of yeast extract saved after the beer brewing process. During World War I, the flow of Marmite to Australia was interrupted and an Australian cheese company, Fred Walker & Co., commissioned an Aussie scientist to come up with similar replacement.

Vegemite was introduced with great fanfare in 1923. However, while the campaigns were successful, the product flopped. Despite various marketing efforts, Vegemite sales remained poor. Kraft purchased Walker & Co. in 1926 (forming the Kraft Walker Cheese Company) and changed the name to Parmite in 1928, which killed Vegemite's tiny though hard-won market share.

So, with plenty of Vegemite on-hand, the Kraft Walker Cheese Company started giving it away with Pontiac automobiles and cheese products. Sales responded positively. Moreoever, the British medical association proclaimed that Vegemite was a great source of Vitamin B, which led to further increase in sales. By World War II, Vegemite was in 9 of 10 Australian homes, had become part of a soldier's daily ration kit, and was even carried by Aussie's traveling abroad due to lack of availability in other countries.

By the 1950's, Vegemite was to Australia what apple pie is to America, aided in part by consumer-oriented campaigns initiated by J.Walter Thompson.

On July 7, 2009, Kraft released a second version of Vegemite -- a mix of Vegemite and cream cheese. To coincide with the release of the new recipe, Kraft recently launched a comprehensive marketing campaign to name the new Vegemite, embracing one of the campaigns that worked 50 years ago.

The new Vegemite can be found on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Below is the one of several commercials. This one has been extended to be 48-seconds long:


And, just as in the early days, J. Walter Thompson has been chosen for creative expertise. Things are looking good as early research actually shows that Vegemite has more brand affinity than Coca-Cola, Starbucks, and Nike (globally);


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About the Author

Jeff Louis: Media Planner, Brand Project Manager, blogger, and aspiring writer. Please leave a comment or get in touch with Jeff on Twitter. As always, thank you for reading!

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