Evidence That The Whole Vegemite “iSnack 2.0” Fiasco Was A Genuine Mistake

iSnack2.0 Brand that lasted 5 minutes

The old way of launching a new FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Good) product:

  1. Marketing team comes up with alternative names (using focus groups, brainstorming etc)
  2. Present the shortlist of their favourites to management for them to choose
  3. The product is launched with the new name with a huge amount of expensive mass advertising

The new way of launching a new FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Good) product:

  1. Put the product on the shelf without a name with the promotion “Name Me” on the front inviting suggestions from the public
  2. Marketing team chooses their favourite 10 names
  3. Let the public choose their favourite name from the list
  4. Announce the winner
  5. Launch the product with the new name

5 Reasons Why “The New Way” Is A Superior Method of Product Naming:

  1. At each step you are adding thousands of potential customers email addresses into your database,
  2. and you get their permission to communicate with them
  3. You are telling your customers that you want their input – so they feel special
  4. The promotions are potentially viral
  5. The promotions are potentially newsworthy

But why did Kraft skip Step #3 (“Let the public choose their favourite name from the list”) the first time around?

There are 3 possible reasons:

  1. They forgot
  2. Management actually thought that their own opinions were more important than their customers
  3. They skipped it on purpose to cause an outrage

In a recent poll, 75% of respondents did indeed think the the whole debacle was on purpose.

Recap of the Kraft Timeline:

  1. Launch promotion to name the new “Vegemite + Cream Cheese” spread using the hugely popular strategy of “let our fans decide what the name should be”
  2. 40,000 suggestions come in from Australia and New Zealand
  3. A junior marketing team creates a shortlist for the Kraft board of directors to choose from
  4. They choose “iSnack 2.0”, and hand out the prize
  5. The public goes mental. They hate the new name (but more than that, they hate that they weren’t asked what the name should be)
  6. Kraft releases a short list of 7 names for the public to choose from
  7. The most popular is Cheesybite with 36% of the 30,000 votes (winning by a 13% margin)

What’s on the shelf?

3 jars of the Vegemite + Cream Cheese spread, each with different labels:

  1. The first “Name Me” jar
  2. The second “iSnack 2.0” jar (which are now collectors items)
  3. The third “Cheesybite” jar

How many of those would you recognise and probably even talk to a friend about if you saw one on the shelf, or in your friend’s pantry or fridge?

All of them.

What did Kraft get out of the experience?

They looked like fools for a while, but were compensated by millions of dollars of free publicity, nationwide brand recognition, and thousands of product trials.

Their new brand is off to the best possible start.

Did they screw up on purpose?

Whether they did it on purpose is an interesting question.

Would you willingly look like a fool in exchange for the chance to make truck loads of cash?

Just as many people would as those that wouldn’t.

If you don’t have pride you have little to lose when you’re humiliated. If you are a business executive who wears a suit everyday, I suggest you would be proud and you wouldn’t take that chance.

So I conclude it was a genuine mistake.

But it doesn’t really matter if it was a mistake or if it was on purpose, what matters is results!

And they certainly got results.

Who in Australia and New Zealand hasn’t heard about Kraft’s new vegemite spread?

Very few haven’t heard about it.

Think about it. It’s vegemite. It’s not remarkable. It’s not a mainstream spread like peanut butter or jam. It has a unique peculiar and only appeals to a certain proportion of the population (popular with pregnant women including my wife and sister-in-law).

So they need to expose the taste to the largest population possible so out of the 10’s of thousands that try it, they can lock in the few that like it.

So what they have done is amazing.

What “mistakes” can you make “on purpose” to get this kind of attention?

Let’s have a brainstorm you and I, email me or phone (07) 575 8799

– Sheldon.

4 Replies to “Evidence That The Whole Vegemite “iSnack 2.0” Fiasco Was A Genuine Mistake”

  1. Hi Sheldon
    Great piece! Excellent. Another example ofcourse is Balloon Boy, that one went sour too, the couple did get their minutes of fame but for all the wrong reasons. You’re quite right in saying Kraft should have kept better tabs on how their ideas would be received instead of just launching it. Duh. That’s why there’s marketing tests and planning involved. Interesting though that the public pummeled them so fiercely, because it is ‘just vegemite’… or is it?

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