Iconic Australian spread Vegemite, which first hit supermarket shelves in 1922, has been bought back from American multinational Mondelēz International, by grassroots brand Bega Cheese.
The A$460 million dollar deal also includes other Kraft labels such as salad dressing and mayonnaise brand Zoosh and beef cooking stock Bonox. Bega will also get the license for Dairylea and KraftEasy Mac & Cheese.
It is yet to be seen how or if this buy back will affect the campaign strategies and marketing of Vegemite, which still uses the 1954 theme song 'Happy Little Vegemites'.
The intention is for the Port Melbourne facilities to remain fully operational and all the relevant staff to transfer to Bega Cheese employment.
Bega Cheese executive chairman, Barry Irvin, says he is “incredibly proud” that a company which began as a dairy farmer will today acquire something so culturally significant.
“We feel honoured to be bringing these businesses together and to be taking on the responsibility and guardianship of one of Australia’s most loved brands” Irvin says.
Originally owned by the Fred Walker Company, the brand was absorbed by Kraft in 1935 after the death of Fred Walker. In 2012, Kraft was restructured and Kraft Foods Inc was in turn renamed Mondelēz, which has owned Vegemite for the last five years.
For Mondelēz, this departure means a larger focus on its snacks and confectionery brands, Cadbury Dairy Milk, Oreo, The Natural Confectionery Co and Philadelphia cheese.
Australian vice president of Mondelēz, Amanda Banfield, said the “time was right” for Vegemite to take the next step in its journey.
Check out a history of some of Vegemite's ads below
In 2013 a #Vegemite90 social media campaign launched and AdNews took a look back at the last 90 years of its advertising. The brand has worked with JWT for the last 85 years – an almost unheard of agency tenure:
The 1920s were all about vitamins and using Vegemite in cooking:
1930s Vegemite was endorsed by the British Medical Association which meant the brand could be recommended by doctors:
1940s War time shortages and rationing mean Vegemite lovers are asked to cut back so there's enough to go around:
1950s Happy Little Vegemites jingle launched in TV and radio ads:
1960s Vegemite Vitality line still being used after 30 years but ads highlight Vegemite's benefits for kids, teens and adults:
1970s “Pass the Vegemite please mum' introduced as the brand focusses on kids:
1980s Aussie celebs Peter Brock, Helen Morse and Ken Rosewall roped in as part of the 'once a Vegemite kid, always a Vegemite kid' spots:
1990s Happy Little Vegemites is updated and Vegemite converts a bus into a giant toaster to give out samples around Australia:
2000's 'Spread the smile' and How you you like your Vegemite lines used and a partnership with Qantas sees Vegemite on-board overseas flights:
2010s happy Vegemite Day – limited edition packaging and a partnership with the Australian Olympic team for the 2012 London Games:
2013 Start with Vegemite campaign looks to increase usage and set the tone for the future of Vegemite:
In 2015 Cadbury introduced a Vegemite variant as part of a marketing stunt around the launch of left-field flavours. Dairy Milk with Vegemite was available nationally for a limited time only alongside Pretzel and Peanut, Salted Caramel and Golden Toffee flavours.
At the time, a Cadbury spokesperson told AdNews: “We know that there's an appetite out there for new flavours and to try something different. We also read and listen to hundreds of comments we get from fans every day asking us for more flavours and suggesting new ones.”
Did you know Vegemite was one of first Australian advertisers to launch paid ads on Instagram? See here.
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