08 October 2009

iSnack 2.0 - Marketing FAIL

Australians (mostly) love their Vegemite. People from other countries think we're mad. The American Arj Barker says in his comedy skit that he has tried it, and he thought it was very nice. The only slight suggestion he could offer was perhaps it needed just a BIT more salt ...? Which was his way of saying it is so salty it could strip your vocal cords.

[I don't know why I said that. Of all people, I should know that food you swallow doesn't head down near your vocal cords. It just sounded funny to say that. "Eat some Vegemite and you could lose your power of speech." Ha ha.]

I think the problem encountered by visitors from overseas is that they spread it too thickly. You can't go slathering the stuff on like Nutella. Just scrape a trace of Vegemite here and a trace there, you're done. That's plenty.

That's a pretty decent amount, on that crusty bread. This would be getting a bit too thick in places:

...and you HAVE to take it out to the corners, for Pete's sake.

But this would be far too much:

It looks like they've wiped that on with a shaving brush in the dark.

And this much on a cracker could pretty much knock over a horse:

So don't do that.

Now please remember that some Australians like their Vegemite THICK. Please understand that that is their preference. They are seasoned (pun?) Vegemite Eaters, having completed years of training (de-sensitisation?). Thick Vegemite is not for the faint-hearted, the hypertensive, or the foreigner. Okay?

You may have heard that recently, the marketers of Vegemite came up with something new. A different recipe, supposedly milder and with less ZING, that would hopefully appeal to the overseas market.

I believe it's Vegemite mixed with Cream Cheese. But here, we see the law of food mixing evident: I like custard and I like balsamic vinegar, but I don't like custard with balsamic vinegar (I am just assuming here.)

I like potatoes and I like ice-cream, but I don't like potatoes with ice-cream.

I like dark chocolate and I like mustard, but I don't like mustard on my dark chocolate.

I like Vegemite and I like cream cheese, but the new recipe isn't doing it for me, nor is it hitting the spot for eight-ninths of Australians.

For a start, it's a pukey brown colour. It's the colour of an animal poo. All Australians know that's not right. Vegemite is supposed to be the colour of axle grease. Only then is it right.

Our inability to embrace the new product was heightened with the naming fiasco. "Take it to The People," some dull boffin suggested across the conference table, after hours of unproductive suggestions for a NAME for their new product.

Never do that. We can't name stuff. We don't want to name stuff. It's YOUR job, what are you paid for, Marketing?

So they sold a whole lot of THIS:

and asked the Australian People to suggest a name.

48,000 entries were received. An estimate of the Australian Population at July 2008 was 21,007,310. Sounds about right. We are, among other things, a nation of bludgers, and it only seems appropriate that 0.22% of Australians bothered to suggest a new name. I didn't, for one.

However, 48,000 is a lot of suggetions, and one would think that in that massive pool of responses that SOMETHING could be found to whack on the label of this new animal-poo-looking spread.

It might surprise you that this was the best they came up with:

Okay, okay, pull yourself together. It's no laughing matter. It's really quite embarrassing for all Australians.

Long story sort, Australians HATED it, absolutely HATED it, and the dull boffin and his friends had to rename it. They came up with:

which is obviously two sandwiches short of the more obvious "Cheesymite" but by this stage, after a few months being called "Name Me" and an ignominious week as "iSnack 2.0, snicker snicker," the new product can't expect too much.

A few are touting the whole debacle as a raging success by Kraft, because Australians have been talking about this like they've never talked about a New Spread before.

While this may be true, the reason we've been talking about it is because we award the boffins at Kraft a whopping great MARKETING FAIL.

... in love, obviously.


Femina said...

Apparently they couldn't call it Cheesymite because Baker's Delight has dibs on the name (or, you know, the legal version of 'dibs' where you can get sued if you use it). My guess it that of the 48,000 entries, approximately 47,963 of them suggested "Cheesymite".

Personally, I'm hopping on board with the conspiracy theorists that the iSnack 2.0 name was just a clever marketing scam to soften us up for the Cheesybite name that they'd planned all along. Not because I think it's necessarily true, but because I love a good conspiracy theory now and then. What's not to love?

As for Vegemite... I'm sorry, I hate the stuff.

Tracy P. said...

That is funny! Their first mistake was trying to appeal to the overseas market. That is a whole lot like casting your pearls before the swine. If we thought that the rest of the world didn't like peanut butter, would we throw something in just to woo them into thinking they did? No, we would eat our peanut butter and smugly say, they don't know what they're missing. More for us.

Vegemite should be marketed as the hidden treasure that it is. At least I imagine that it is. Because there isn't one thing they could do to it to make me suspect that I would like it. Perception is everything.

Heather said...

Funny, I've always thought Vegemite must be a jar of disgustingness, much like blood pudding over in Jolly Olde England or haggis in Scotland or lutefisk in Scandanavia (sorry, too sleep deprived at the moment to recall if that's a Norwegian or Swedish delicacy, so I'm going for the generic Scandanavia), or sheep's eyeball stew in the Middle East (ditto on the generic, though I do recall a friend of mine was once served such a thing while in Saudi Arabia...)

Anyhow, that's kind of what I thought about Vegemite - it's some horrid thing that only you Aussies (and perhaps a New Zealander or two?) consume with pleasure. I didn't know the taste or anything more about it, really, except that you lot eat it happily and it is the punchline of many an international cuisine joke. (Well, maybe not many but you know what I mean. Sorry, sleep deprivation has fogged my already pea-sized brain.)

Now, of all the things I've listed above, blood pudding is the only thing I've ever actually tried. It was horrible - like a paste of scabs. Gross with a capital Barf. Having heard your description of Vegemite, however, it actually sounds........... a bit appealing! I like yeasty things and I like salty things. Maybe it's just the PMS and sleep deprivation talking, but if I ever came across a(n appropriately small, mind you, I'm not *that* nuts) jar of Vegemite at the store, I *might* just buy it to bring home and sample it. Of my own free will.

Not, however, Cheesybite, because that? So, so, so wrong.

Now I'm burning with curiosity as to whether I can purchase Vegemite at my local grocery store. Google, here I come..........

Joy said...

Just the name vegemite is so unappealing to me. Thanks for the heads up on saltiness. I saw it in our grocery story the other day. I should buy some and taste it just to see what all the fuss is about down under.
I agree with you aren't the marketing people suppose to do that.


sewfunbymonique said...

I have been behind in blog reading lately. Here's my comments:
* You are a GREAT painter! You would laugh at my attempts!!
*I love your Vegemite review! I knew really nothing about it , and after reading about it, I have NO DESIRE to try it. I think its okay that its for Australians only. Companies want to expand everything, and usually with bad results. My husband works for Wrigleys gum and we've tasted some doozy flavors!!

CynthiaK said...

Really? I mean, they actually tried calling it iSnack 2.0 for real? Honestly? You are pulling my leg. You PhotoShopped that. I can't believe it.

Anyway, I don't know that (as a Canadian) I could ever be persuaded to even venture a teensy weensy taste of Vegemite. Of course, I'm not a fan of any kind of processed spread, except maybe peanut butter...and, well, margarine, I guess... I'm just a little scared of Vegemite.

Well, good on ya for letting those corporate buffoons have it for the naming fiasco. Please - enjoy your Vegemite to the fullest! The real stuff, not the 2.0. :)

Hairline Fracture said...

I'm pretty sure I won't be trying either Vegemite or this new product. iSnack 2.0 is the lamest name ever, and Cheesybite is only a little better.

Jen said...

Wow, I really don't know what to say about this. But what a mess.

♥ Boomer ♥ said...

Hilarious! I only know you are right because I lived there and tried Vegemite both ways. Thick, gag. And spread nicely thin. Better. I don't know if they sell Vegemite here. Seems like my sis said they do now. I remember looking for it for years, then gave up. Perhaps I shall go look again...

Sassy Britches said...

Woman, you had me at "eight-ninths."

Swift Jan said...

We have been calling it "cheesyMITE" ever since it hit the shelves as name it! My kids LOVE the new stuff. I however refuse to try it! How can they improve on the REAL vegemite? They can't. Swift Jim says its pretty nice... I dont believe him!

So glad they changed the name though... iSnack 2.0... I mean come on!

The Accidental Housewife said...

I must be a bit of an oddity, I really like the new vegemite. It doeslook like poop though. The only problem with the new stuff is, since I spread my normal vegemite thick thick thick, I need about 2 tonnes of the new stuff to get the same kick. And I just can't afford to order it in by the truckload. Where a normal vegemite jar will last me a year or so, the teeny little new stuff only lasts a week. Rip off!

This is one of the funniest blog posts you've written, btw. I love it!

Crazy Sister said...

iSnack2.0 is a name that would have dated very quickly. Once all the "i-technology" has been superseded, it would have been a lame joke name.

I think I may need to go to Vegemite rehab. I need an inch of it to start with, and when I'm halfway through I frown down at my toast to check I actually have Vegemite on it.

Last night I was eating eggs on toast, with salt, and it just wasn't enough salt, and the kids hadn't finished their Vegemite toast, so I exchanged my eggs onto their Vegemite toast... and yeah, that was salty.

Off to rehab with me.

Hippomanic Jen said...

Thanks for updating me on the fiasco. I'd seen the "Name me" about but I haven't tried it, haven't been watching the news to find out what my compatriots would like to call it and had totally missed the stuff up.

I like my Vegemite black, salty and thick (with no butter) - just as God intended. If there must be a dairy component it should be a slice of tasty cheese on top.

What WERE they thinking?

Long dark hair, blue eyes said...

This is by far the most comprehensive post about Vegemite I have ever read - and I am very impressed.

But now I want Vegemite toast - and I already ate dinner - thanks! ;)