Kraft to turn media storm into sales bonanza?

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 5th October 2009

As Kraft releases a list of names for the Australian public to choose from for their Vegemite spin-off, the media continues to lash into the food manufacturer, with many happy to hastily label iSnack 2.0 as a “marketing disaster”.

The name was certainly misguided and, perhaps, naive, but to brand it a marketing disaster is simply wrong, at this stage, and underestimates the potential boost it could give to sales.

You can’t make sales without brand awareness and Kraft has certainly ensured they have plenty, whether by design or by accident. They have also seen passion reignited in the Vegemite brand and you can’t place a price on that. How it is handled from here is the key, however, with the idea to acknowledge the naming error and allow a vote on a new name giving the company every opportunity to cash in on the publicity. But they need to be cautious, as there are signs the public is wary that the naming debacle has just been an expensive stunt.

For those with an interest in history, one only needs to look back to the 80s to see the positive impact customer backlash can actually have on a popular product.


Despite initial sales success, New Coke was one of the most unsuccessful launches in history after The Coca-Cola Company saw a need to change the formula of Coke to counter the rising threat of Pepsi.

Pepsi had been making ground on their arch rival for years and executives at the Atlanta-based company were increasingly nervous by the growth of the sweeter Pepsi. As a result, they reformulated their iconic product and had no idea of the anger it would conjure after taste tests had shown New Coke to be superior to both Pepsi and the original Coke formula.

It was released amid much fanfare and early sales were good but, within three months, the company was calling a press conference to announce the reintroduction of the old formula as anger from their most passionate customers quickly spread. Many began proclaiming Coke’s reign at the top of the cola market as being over, but it was at this point that their dominance returned, with sales surging upon the reintroduction. And they haven’t been surpassed since, with Coca-Cola consistently heading lists of the most valuable global brands.

“Yes, it infuriated the public, cost a tonne of money and lasted only 77 days before we reintroduced Coca-Cola Classic,” Coca-Cola Marketing Vice President Sergio Zyman noted in the 90s. “Still, New Coke was a success because it revitalized the brand and reattached the public to Coke.”

Kraft narrows list

In the wake of the uproar the food manufacturer has released a list of six possible names for the new cream cheese Vegemite spin-off and will now allow the Australian public to make the final decision through a public vote.