Kraft Foods has released a new product that contains a combination of the black beer slops that Australians lovingly call Vegemite, and cream cheese. Non-Australians already find the black stuff weird, but in Australia, there has been a bit of a stink around the name that they have given to the new product, iSnack 2.0.
I’m the first person to say that any company that puts “i” in front of their brand, or product, and suddenly thinks that the “young people” will buy it is a bit of a nong, but Kraft may be on to something, that has been missed by all the complainers.
It’s a well-known fact amongst marketers and branders, that when it comes to fast-moving consumable goods (FMCGs), salience is one of the most powerful motivators for purchase. Salience is a technical term that basically means how easy something is to recall from our memory. The reality is that iSnack 2.0 is being talked about all over the country, and this will have a significant effect on the brand’s salience when people head off to the shops in the next couple of days.
The thing that a lot of people are also missing is that Vegemite wasn’t always an Aussie iCon. It was first released, after a competition to name it back in 1922, then had an attempted name change (to Parwill) in 1928, but didn’t really take off until the late 1930s, once the product started to be endorsed by Doctor’s Associations, health bodies, and even the British Medical Journal as a good way for young children to get a dose of vitamins B1, B2 and niacin.
I think the one downside of this name is that it may date very quickly. There seems to be an accepted wisdom amongst people who know nothing about communication, that to be “up-to-date” you need to jump on the bandwagon of any new trend, particularly in technology. So a little while ago, everyone was putting “e” at the front of their brand or product (in universities we had e-learning, e-communication, e-university).
Now, for some reason, companies think that putting a lower case “i” in front of anything makes them hip and cool and awesome, and init with the young people. So we have iLearning, iLecture and iSing. It was new and interesting when iMac came out, and to some degree, Apple should be allowed to put i in front of any product they like, but whether it translates to a black spread is questionable.
But I don’t think it signals the end of Vegemite. There have always been wacky brand names that people have struggled with – Westpac, Accenture, Mars Bar, Snickers, Pepsi are all meaningless, but people are willing to put up with them, because they want the product.
What might happen is that the product and the brand-name will be used as a means of promotion, to get interest, and conversation, and somewhere down the line they might drop the full name. So, we might see iSnack, or VegieSnack.
The thing with any brand name is that the company needs to own it, and run with it, and promote it, and create a situation where their target market remembers it, tries it, and rebuys it.
... All this talk about Vegemite is making me hungry for some salty tasting, black goo on toast.