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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.


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….


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.





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:



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

  1. Jean

    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. Ruth Brown

    Don’t worry: it’s just an extra version.

    More Crystal Pepsi than New Coke.

  3. David Sanderson

    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.

  4. Jason Richardson

    Is it just stringing out more free publicity, now through the outrage?

    I still reckon Vaginamite would’ve done that better: http://showcasejase.blogspot.com/2009/07/vaginamite-toast.html

  5. Most Peculiar Mama

    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?

  6. Chris Johnson

    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

  7. David Sanderson

    “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.

  8. Marcus Giles

    I’m shocked and surprised my suggestion of “YankeeMite” didn’t take off.

    hmm seems even more relevent now 😛

  9. Mac Yourselfathome

    I like the new name.

    I don’t really. I was just being contrary.

  10. martinells4g

    When it first came out I was calling it ‘Shitemite’. Despite the fact that
    I quite like the taste, I think that name still appies.

  11. David Sanderson

    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.

  12. Ollie

    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

  13. Digby Hughes

    I think this will be much as a success as the new coke from a few years ago

  14. Amber Jamieson

    I love that Delta Goodrem fans were united in their hate of iSnack 2.0. I guess they don’t really have anything else to talk about these days…

  15. Ollie

    ..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

  16. Spunky1972

    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

  17. Venise Alstergren

    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.

  18. Venise Alstergren

    MARCUS GILES: That was very funny. Hehehehe!

  19. Venise Alstergren

    Just thought of a better name: ¡vom.it.us!

  20. Pants

    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…

  21. Venise Alstergren

    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?”

  22. Ruth Brown

    Actually, the new Vegemite “name me” campaign was run by Melbourne ad agency JWT: http://www.bandt.com.au/news/7a/0c06257a.asp

  23. Ben Aveling

    @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.

  24. Richard Wilson

    Why didn’t they call it Justmite ..then they could at least live in hope!

  25. Bullmore's Ghost

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

  26. Smithee

    Did no one in the entire corporate chain dare to remark that in reality the Emporer had no clothes on ?

  27. afoxrussell

    meh. Its just a name. What makes the name Vegemite so spec-bloody-tactular?

  28. Bob Tamock

    Exactly what is the relationship between iSnack 2.0, Kyle Sandilands, Telstra and Microsoft?

    PS: The only stuff worth adding to iSnack 2.0 on toast is fresh tomato.

  29. Stuart Hamilton

    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.

  30. Chris Johnson

    Yes Stuart. Nuts is in – peanut butter is out. And so are considerations for Aussie taste buds as the US Kraft range gets trotted out to down-under supermarket shelves. Bet honey, nut and cream cheese will be launched soon along with Pimento spread. If you think the one size fits all global economy stops with financial markets your wrong.


  31. mark hipgrave

    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. “

  32. Venise Alstergren

    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.

  33. Venise Alstergren

    Chris, you left out the sweet chili, the pesto, olives and the anchovies.

  34. kate

    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.

  35. Richard Wilson

    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!

  36. pwnerous

    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!

  37. pwnerous

    Ps Epic WIN for publicity – because I’m hungry and now want some Vegemite toast. Damn marketeers.

  38. Stuart Hamilton

    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…..

  39. Ben Aveling

    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.

  40. Stephen Stebbing

    Yes can’t say I go much on the name, I would have called it Angie Dickinson my ex wife whos birrthday is today–shes looking after me today===really trendy.

  41. Venise Alstergren

    DAVID: Or as one of my earlier comments: !Vom.it.us!

  42. higgphoto

    In the tradition of software bug fix updates (stuff-ups), my entry for the renaming of iSnack 2.0 is……. iSnack 2.1.0

  43. neslot

    LOL can’t belive this, they are being flogged on not only ebay but even ecommerce sites are emerging!

    see for yourself,

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