Vegemite toasts 90 years, wants recipes to spread the word

By Rosie Baker | 21 October 2013
Vegemite: looking to counter flat sales.

Vegemite turns 90 this week and the Aussie favourite is looking forward to its next 90 years with a raft of marketing activity aimed to inspire people with new ways to enjoy the spread including a first of its kind cross promotional campaign, to counter flat sales.

Mondelez, which owns Vegemite, has partnered with Australian egg, avocado and tomato suppliers to launch a campaign that cross promotes the foods alongside Vegemite. Stickers and on-pack labelling will roll out across Australian avocados, tomatoes and eggs in supermarkets this month to encourage people to buy the items together.

The approach was flagged in ads recently created by JWT Melbourne.

Darren O'Brien, managing director of food brands at Mondelez, told AdNews the promotion is something that hasn't been done before. It is designed to encourage more usage occasions for Vegemite and support Australian producers.

The spread brand, which turns 90 on Friday (25 October) is also running a digital campaign to encourage recipe suggestions from fans that will go on to inspire future marketing, according to O'Brien.

Vegemite wants fans to use social platforms including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to share content and images of how they are enjoying Vegemite on Friday, using the hashtag #Vegemite90.

The hashtag campaign and cross promotional activity are part of the 'Start with Vegemite' brand campaign, which launched earlier this year designed to drive usage, make Vegemite more contemporary and keep it relevant tor the next 90 years. The current campaign suggests Vegemite with poached eggs and avocados on toast. The recipe ideas shared by fans on Friday will go on to inspire future iterations of the brand’s campaign.

O'Brien said he wanted everyday submissions from everyday Aussies, "not the ones that have taken a stylist four hours to create. If we can inspire more people to try it, that is how we make Vegemite contemporary and inspire people to have it more often in different ways".

He said the “inspirational” advertising will go hand in hand with some of the brand's more functional, health messaging, and admitted that while the brand's advertising over the last 90 years has built brand love – it hasn't necessarily increased use. That is what the brand has set its sights on to drive growth in the next century: volume growth is modest while value growth is flat, as aggressive price promotions have impacted dollar sales. That's good for the customer, said O'Brien, but not necessarily for the brand.

“We've done a lot of functional messaging [in the past] - B vitamins, the Happy Little Vegemites - all that's done a great job at building love for the Vegemite brand but this is the next phase – how do we keep it vibrant and exciting for the next 90 years? How do we inspire people to use it in different ways and not just think of it as Vegemite on toast as they had it as a kid?”

The brand is also exploring options for product innovations that could see the Vegemite flavour applied to other products. Earlier this month it brought back Vegemite Cheese Singles, in partnership with sister brand Kraft cheese slices, but O'Brien says while Vegemite is open to similar opportunities to create Vegemite variants of other products, it will “tread with respect” as Vegemite fans can be protective.

As part of the digital campaign, for every 'Like' the brand achieves on Facebook in October, Vegemite is donating a jar to Foodbank. It hopes to give the charity more than 90,000 jars.

“The Like is about consumers, its our way of letting them feel they are a part of providing 90,000 jars to Foodbank," O'Brein said. "It raises awareness but the 'like' itself doesn’t monetise – its about people feeling like they are part of the campaign."

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