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Sep 28, 2009

Vegemite's new name unites the internet in contempt

Kraft has finally found a name for its "new" Vegemite -- and it's so horrible, the entire internet has gone into snark meltdown.

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Apparently there was some sort of sporting event on Saturday — not that those of us who spend our weekends hopelessly glued to our laptops and iPhones noticed (not that it’s hopeless when we do it, of course, because we’re online-journalist-social-media-expert-guru-bloggers and that’s just how we roll in the Web Squared era. No accounting for those other freaks, though); the Big Game was eclipsed by a far more important issue: Kraft has finally found a name for its “new version” of Vegemite. And it’s horrible.

How horrible?

Are you sitting down?

Got a stiff drink?

Dialled two zeros on your phone just in case your face is badly injured in the severe bout of cringing that is about to occur?

Deep breath….

ispew

The Vegemite iSnack 2.0. Yes: they really called it that.

As the gatekeepers of Web 2.0 and poking fun at easy targets, the good citizens of Twitter just about went into snark meltdown when the new name was revealed in the quarter-time ad break of the AFL Grand Final, and all discussion of men in tiny shorts running around an oval was quickly discarded as #Vegefail took over as one of the highest trending topics in the world.

vegefail0

vegefail2

vegefail3

vegefail1

In online forums (remember those? So Web 1.0. How ironic.) all over the ‘tubes, folks from every conceivable community and sub-culture were united by their shared hatred of the name: skiers hated it, club kids hated it, Mac fanboys hated it, footy fans hated it, homosexuals hated it, foodies hated it, gamers hated it, body-builders hated it, the British Army hated it, highschool students hated it, mums hated it, stock traders hated it, and Delta Goodrem fans hated it.

Those people who rant to their webcams on YouTube… ranted to their webcams:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lK4ADMuj8k[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5x35HlsvhH8[/youtube]

On the blogs, the punters were equally scathing:

“Kraft have lost the plot” declared OzSoapBox:

Kraft claim the name iSnack 2.0 was chosen to “to align the new product with a younger market — and the “cool” credentials of Apple’s iPod and iPhone.”

Really guys? That’s how superficial we have become as a society?

Sorry but sandwich spread is never going to be ‘cool’. Kids aren’t going to gather around the playground to checkout some kids new sandwich, wake up early to watch the new show on sandwich spread tv or begin to start trading Vegemite trading cards anytime soon.

Tethered Cow Ahead wished it was all a pisstake:

Aside from anything, the ‘i’ was originally intended to designate ‘internet’ and if there’s one thing that Kraft and Vegemite has demonstrated extremely clearly, it’s their complete lack of intertubes acumen.

In fact, an entire blog — Names that are better than “iSnack 2.0” — has been created to document this fallout from this PR bomb.

So how did Kraft end up with such a universally hated new moniker for its iconic brown sludge? Don’t they focus group this stuff?

You see, instead of paying marketing professionals to come up with something actually good, Kraft had a competition to come up with a name. And out of an alleged 48,000 entries, that was the best one.

Or so they say.

But some of you may remember that the Crikey Team put our lives on the line in the name of journalism by actually taste-testing the new Vegemite while still in its un-named form. At the time, the inimitable First Dog submitted a name of his own.

We put it to you: Is Kraft’s choice really better (or more appropriate) than Dog’s?

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45 comments

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45 thoughts on “Vegemite’s new name unites the internet in contempt

  1. I don’t know if it is Kraft or the media reporting that leaves me asking this question- does this mean regular Vegemite will no longer be available, or is the creamcheesisation that has turned all supermarket dips into the same product (remember taramasalata made the proper way with bread crumbs?) simply an extra version?

  2. I’m a total newbie when it comes to iPhone food snacks. Can someone tell me what slot iSnack goes in because it won’t fit in the battery compartment.

    If my iPhone likes the stuff how much will this high-energy snack extend the battery life?

    Also, are there copies of the 1.0 versions still around? 2.o is a bit expensive for me.

  3. What else would you expect from a “web” designer but i(diot)Snack v2.0.

    An “E P I C F A I L” to appeal to the GenText tools.

    Once all the free publicity had died down they will announce the new name Cheesymite, which they have paid Baker’s Delight a small fortune for.

    The fact they feel it necessary to do this initial pre-test betrays the real marketing talent vacuum at Kraft HQ.

    This is little more than a lame and pathetic attempt at guerilla marketing.

    And so 2003.

    What’s next… a flash mob?

  4. Interesting to follow iSnack 2.0’s market success given the following:

    1. IT-illiterate and over 50’s shoppers will likely assume its a kiddie food
    2. It’s perishable unless refrigerated after opening
    3. Contains preservatives
    4. Compared to Vegemite it has increased fats and sugars
    5. Is less versatile as a cooking stock

    And it tastes like a cross between playdough and plasticine

  5. “And it tastes like a cross between playdough and plasticine”

    Chris, you may be the most adventurous epicurean in world history. Even the most adventurous gourmets I know of would not think of mixing their sculptural foods.

  6. Chris reckons it tastes like a cross between plasticine and playdough and Martin reckons it tastes like shite.

    There is no accounting for taste is there? Could someone who has tasted both please report back to us as to which of these two out-there gourmands has the most accurate taste buds and/or sensory descriptive powers.

  7. The reason iSnack 2.0 is wrong (and it’s not just the name)

    The idea this is a deliberate name choice to create PR interest makes me think the marketing team (I’ll use the team advisedly) at Kraft don’t realise there is such a thing as bad publicity- you are your reputation in the world of internet ratings.

    However, this product has been so wrong from the start; I believe they are just incompetent (or accountants). Their list of crimes includes:

    1) Mixing two products together (Philly and Vegemite) that nobody in their right minds would do if they didn’t work for Kraft (who own both products)

    2) Use a “Name-It” strategy which is lazy and unoriginal (does anybody think the “Backyard Burger” that won the McDonald’s Name it competition last year will ever be heard of again?)

    3) Crowd sourcing names like this is pretending to connect to the community. If Kraft listened to their consumers they might know how much Australians hate it when (American) businesses mess with their icons.

    4) The people who you are going to annoy most are your loyalists, the same ones who guarantee your future by inducting their kids into eating something that is a hugely acquired taste

    5) Does not address Vegemite’s perennial problem: 100% household distribution, declining usage. What was wrong with continuing the “how do you eat it?” campaign celebrating Vegemite’s uniqueness from earlier in the year?

    6) Finally do not make a TVC about the marketing process- just because you are in marketing and advertising does not mean Australian’s care about what you do- anyone who has done an NPD process knows they aren’t fun, glamorous or necessarily worth marking an ad about (unless you are so disconnected from your users that you think they care- whoops, that right, see point 3)

    The name- even if it is a stunt- is the culmination of a marketing train wreck

  8. ..new coke they will go to market with ads saying they’ve fired the brand manager (like Lipton tea did when a massively unsuccessful change from their iconic yellow labels). Marketers as brand vandals just reinforces the negative sterotypes of the profession

  9. I have tasted both playdoh and shite – unfortunately I haven’t tasted iSnack 2.0…..and am unlikely to since I’m too embarrassed to buy such a shitefully named product

  10. Didn’t I read somewhere that they held a competition for this bit of verbal vomit? God alone knows what sort of humanoids entered the comp let alone the drone who okayed it.

    Hang on, it’s an American company now. Which explains everything.

  11. Surely this is a viral marketing hoax. I name so mind bogglingly bad that it gets laughed at, forwarded in emails and has its own blog denouncing it. Getting everybody talking about the product… Reminding us all how much we Aussies love our sacred vegemite…

  12. Or how much total ignorance the Americans have about We Aussies.

    I’ll never forget once I was stuck in a city called Barranquilla in Colombia-I’d managed to get sun stroke-An American with one of those hideous pork pie hats was trying to chat me up and was speaking very slowly. Finally the reason became apparent. He asked me. “What language do you speak in Australia?”

  13. @Most Peculiar Mama – I think you are on the money. Run the dud name, score the free publicity, change the name, score more free publicity. It isn’t even bad publicity because no one will really think worse of the product because of the name.

    The proof of your theory will be in how fast they get the new brand onto shelves.

    It’s probably good marketing. Of course, the fastest way to kill a bad product is with good marketing.

  14. I will sum up my feeling about this new name in just one word: “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

  15. More evidence of the naff output of the Kraft marketing geniuses – I noticed in spreading it on this morning’s toast that they’ve relabelled peanut butter ‘Nuts’. I couldn’t have described them better myself.

  16. I sent all this to my son who is an art director at an advertising agency. His take is as follows:

    “This is either incredibly stupid or incredibly clever.

    Any publicity is good publicity, and they have the ENTIRE country talking about their new product. When they decide to rename it to something more sensible they will A) look like they listen to their customers and B) will have had their new product top of mind for a few weeks.

    I highly doubt the Phillip Morris / Altria / Kraft owned brand would enter into something so ridiculous without weighing up the pros and cons pretty heavily.

    My guess is this whole exercise is very clever marketing. “

  17. Agree about the marketing being smart-sort of, but did the person who thought of the name win a prize for his/her efforts for an apparently spurious competition? That is bad friendly family imagery. People can out-smart themselves. We will see, no doubt.

  18. I’d never heard of the stuff until all this blew up, so I guess that is the definition of a marketing success. Mind you I won’t be buying it, whether they call it i-thingy 2.whatever – it sounds disgusting.

  19. Vegemite was an Australian product taken over by an American company Kraft which in more recent times morphed into an arm of the tobacco industry. Meiguo has no idea what it’s for or what it does…least of all to Australians. It’s an aphrodisiac, eliminates boils and all forms of skin disease, turns little boys into supermen and works as a non toxic tanning agent. My kids from 4-28 still demand it on toast and grown men have been known to break down and cry when not on a breakfast menu in Beijing. This latest insidious assault on the Aussie psyche is just too much for any koala to bear!
    Come on fellas don’t let these septics come the raw prawn! Boycott Starbucks (although it’s probably Chinese owned by now!) and tell Kraft what they might do with their cheesy comestibles.
    No one pushes us Aussies around and gets away with it!

  20. I love the idea that this was deliberate. If so, this is AWESOME – because ‘iSnack 2.0’ is so sh-t … and so funny.

    I can just imagine the boardroom when the time came to create an offensively bad name that would get under everyone’s skin. Now THAT would be a fun meeting to go to. Could I see the short-list?

    All we need now is the “I’m a little vegemite” commercials, done as silhouettes with citrus backgrounds and a monochrome (yellow) product to stick out. F-cking hilarious!

  21. Whatever their original intention they will certainly be now rewriting history and claiming it as a brilliant piece of marketing. And we just help to make it so…..

  22. Yes but no but no. Good marketing will kill a bad product. With bad product and bad marketing you can live off people who haven’t yet tried your product while you get it right. With good marketing and a bad product, you don’t have enough time to repair and recover.