After more than 85 years in the Australian market VEGEMITE spread created its first true new product to add to the VEGEMITE brand family – VEGEMITE CHEESYBITE in July of 2009. This product was launched in the same spirit as VEGEMITE spread back in the 1920’s, with a nationwide search for the perfect name. Initially launched as “VEGEMITE NAME ME”, consumers were encouraged to enter into a naming contest for the new product, made from a mixture of cream cheese and VEGEMITE spread. At the AFL Grand Final in September, the new name had been chosen and was announced as “Snack2.0”. However, the feedback from consumers was that this name didn’t properly reflect the brand, so the competition was reopened asking consumers to vote on one of 8 names to be the new name.
There is a unique brand truth about VEGEMITE spread… despite the fact that it is a single product, its usage is highly individual. The 2008 “How Do You Like Your VEGEMITE?” campaign provoked debate around the different ways you can eat VEGEMITE spread, from the usual ‘Tiger Toaster’ (VEGEMITE spread and cheese) to the more unusual (e.g. ‘The Redback’ VEGEMITE spread and tomatoes) . This campaign was launched through Television, radio, outdoor and digital in an effort to “paint the town red” with VEGEMITE spread imagery. 2008 also saw the production of the billionth jar of VEGEMITE spread, which was celebrated through a nation wide consumer promotion searching for a special jar through a winning promotional sticker hiding under the cap of one jar of VEGEMITE spread. This campaign gained unprecedented PR and media attention as fans around the country searched for the special Billionth Jar of VEGEMITE spread in the “Billionth Jar” promotion.
The children of Australia are welcomed back to school with a new television advertisement that includes a series of video clips from the ‘Happy Little Vegemites’ entries. Limited edition VEGEMITE brand breakfast mugs are launched after the success of the limited edition plate the previous year. VEGEMITE spread fans are invited to collect tokens from under the lids of 455g jars and redeem them for the VEGEMITE branded mug. The mugs feature a unique futuristic rocket design and are packaged in a specially designed box. The promotion is a huge success amongst Australians. A new series of television ads are launched, outlining the benefits of a diet high in Vitamin B.
The new millennium kicks off with the chance to collect your own VEGEMITE branded plate. The limited edition design, only available when buying VEGEMITE spread, features the theme, ‘The future is as bright as bright can be’. A new television commercial and colourful supermarket displays are created specifically to support the promotion, and the response is overwhelming. The VEGEMITE logo is embossed on to the top of the lid, and the back label is printed with a short story on how Australia’s favourite spread came to be. The ‘Happy Little Vegemites’ Awards are re-launched with the new ‘The future is as bright as bright can be’ theme. Over 450 entries are received and Craigmore Christian College in South Australia is chosen as the national winner, collecting $78,000 to use on educational facilities. The ‘Happy Little Vegemites’ Awards are broadcast on the VEGEMITE website and all winning entries are posted for viewing.
Kraft launches a new product incorporating the VEGEMITE spread; ‘Snack Abouts’. They feature four crisp breads in every pack and a handy red stick for spreading. They become a popular addition to the Aussie kids’ lunch box, but are also popular amongst adults. The VEGEMITE brand encourages older generations of VEGEMITE spread consumers to continue eating and buying the product, due to its high content of Vitamins B1 and B2, which help release energy throughout the body. Woolworths gives away 500 VEGEMITE branded toasters during the ‘VEGEMITE, a great way to start the day,’ breakfast promotion.
VEGEMITE spread is released in a tube, to coincide with the beginning of the peak travel period. ‘The Happy Little Vegemites’ Awards are launched, and primary schools across Australia are invited to participate. The awards are the VEGEMITE brand’s way of giving back to the Australian community, by making a significant contribution to the growth and educational development of young Australians. Over 900 schools responded to the invitation and all had to perform their own version of the legendary ‘Happy Little Vegemites’ song. The national winner was Emmanuel College in Queensland, which received the grand prize of $75,000. The ‘Happy Little Vegemites’ song is given a more contemporary feel, and a new advertisement is featured on television.
The VEGEMITE brand turns 70 and is known to most of the Australian population. A commemorative jar was produced to celebrate the occasion.
A new commercial for the VEGEMITE brand is filmed, using Super-8 to achieve a home movie feel. It is accompanied by the ‘Happy Little Vegemites’ jingle and continues to circulate the importance of VEGEMITE spread’s nutritional benefit to growing children. Yellow, tamper-evident lids replace traditional metal ones, which ensures VEGEMITE spread reaches consumers in exactly the same way it was prepared in the factory. A VEGEMITE brand exhibition is staged at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum, during the July school holidays. The exhibition features original jars and promotional material dating back to the birth of the VEGEMITE brand in 1922. The majority of jars collected from the early years of VEGEMITE spread came from the Australian public following a national search for historical VEGEMITE brand memorabilia.
A national television advertising campaign is launched, using the, “Do you know what I really like?” slogan from 1983.
In April, a 115g jar of VEGEMITE spread makes supermarket history in Australia by becoming the first product to be electronically scanned at a checkout. It was scanned at Woolworths in Chullora, NSW and the price was 66 cents. The product is still on display at the Woolworths head office in NSW.
The VEGEMITE brand uses three prominent Australians in their advertising campaign directed at teenagers and young adults – champion racing car driver Peter Brock, tennis legend Ken Rosewall and award winning actress Helen Morse.
A new advertising campaign for radio and magazines launches, using the phrase, “Pass the VEGEMITE please Mum.” It becomes a very popular turn of phrase.
The VEGEMITE label, despite all the social changes occurring nation wide, resists change and continues to stand for nutrition and quality.
Coles supermarket, first trading as Dickins, opens in Victoria and Woolworths opens in New South Wales – ensuring sales and stock of the extremely popular VEGEMITE brand. The ‘Happy Little Vegemites’ jingle makes a comeback in advertising. According to the published history of Woolworths their first supermarket was opened on 10 April 1957 at Dee Why in New South Wales. It was the first of the chain of Woolworths Food Fairs. The first Coles Supermarket was the Dickins supermarket in North Balwyn and it opened on 3 March 1960.
The VEGEMITE brand reflects its association with the American company Kraft. For the first time, Kraft’s logo – a K in a hexagon – appears on the VEGEMITE spread label. Kraft Walker Cheese Company Pty Ltd changed it’s name to Kraft Foods Limited. This reflected the fact that Australian ownership (just under 50%) in the company was acquired by the Kraft in the US.
Post-war prosperity leads to a boom in VEGEMITE spread sales. The baby boom proves a strong market, after baby care experts, such as Sister McDonald, are quoted in the Women’s Weekly saying “VEGEMITE spread is most essential,” and further cementing VEGEMITE spread’s reputation for nutrition and wholesomeness.
VEGEMITE brand packaging features many new promotional labels, often with famous Disney characters like Mickey Mouse (then only a toddler) and Donald Duck. This form of marketing and promotion is quite successful with children. VEGEMITE spread clarifies its content with the label description ‘Concentrated Yeast Extract’.
The Kraft Walker Company launches a promotion with substantial prizes – including imported Pontiac automobiles – asking people to create a limerick for the VEGEMITE brand. The hugely successful promotion sees a jump in VEGEMITE spread sales on a mass scale Australia wide. The winning limerick, much like the naming competition of 1923, is not recorded, or has been lost in time. VEGEMITE spread gains official product endorsement from the British Medical Association. This endorsement feat allows the VEGEMITE brand to be advertised in the British Medical Journal, and sees medical professionals and baby care experts recommending VEGEMITE spread as a Vitamin B rich, nutritionally balanced food for their patients.
VEGEMITE spread sales receive a boost when redemption coupons are included in packs of cheddar cheese. Its reputation as a tasty, nutritious food starts to catch on Australia wide. Fred Walker passes away, leaving the company to continue his tradition of innovation.
VEGEMITE spread is available in a variety of sizes, ranging from 2 ounce opal glass jars to 6 pound tins.
Sales of VEGEMITE spread are sluggish. VEGEMITE spread is renamed ‘Parwill’, in an attempt to emulate the success of the English spread, ‘Marmite’ that dominates the Australian market. It is branded with the catchphrase, “If Marmite…then Parwill.” Parwill is only ever sold in Queensland, and does not take off nationally. Fred Walker reverts to the VEGEMITE brand and name.
The Fred Walker Company becomes Kraft Walker Foods. VEGEMITE spread is produced in a limited edition branded porcelain jar, one that has since become a collector’s item. Fred Walker & Company Pty Ltd continued to operate after 1926 producing Red Feather products. In fact the company wasn’t wound-up until after Walker’s death in 1935. What happened in 1926 could be described in todays jargon as a joint venture between Fred Walker & Company Pty Ltd and J.L. Kraft Inc of the USA to establish the Kraft Walker Cheese Company Pty Ltd. This company went on to manufacture Kraft Processed Cheddar Cheese and other products including Vegemite.
A young chemist named Dr. Cyril P Callister, hired by the Fred Walker Company, develops a remarkable and distinguished new spread from brewer’s yeast. It’s appealing taste is backed up by its credentials as being one of the world’s richest known sources of natural Vitamin B. It is sold in a two ounce (57g) amber glass jar, capped with what was known as a Phoenix seal, to keep the contents fresh. It is labelled ‘Pure Vegetable Extract’.
Fred Walker runs a competition inviting the Australian public to create a name for the new spread. A prize of 50 pounds – a sizeable sum for that era – is placed into a prize pool for finalists. Hundreds of people enter. Fred Walker’s daughter selects the winning name: VEGEMITE. The name of the winning entrant is not placed on record. VEGEMITE spread begins being sold from grocers’ shelves. It is described as delicious on sandwiches and toast, and as improving the flavour of soups, stews and gravies. Its flavour and nutritional qualities do not catch on with the Australian public. Initial sales are slow.