A Bold Flavour — How Vegemite Levelled The Playing Field

Holden, Victoria Bitter and Vegemite. These brands can only be described as iconically Australian. Instantly recognisable in the Land Down Under, they explicitly became so from understanding what they stand for, who their audiences are, and where their key opportunities are to align their brand with their target audience. Take Holden and their long-standing relationship with one of the most famous Australian Football League clubs in Collingwood Magpies. Or Victoria Bitter aligning with cricket legend, David Boon. Or, more recently, Vegemite’s very open clash with Marmite at the 2019 Ashes series.

This all-out brand war between Vegemite and Marmite has spread patriotism and sledging throughout England and Australia, playing out on the Ashes pitch. The battle of the mites is a beautiful example of a brand’s self-confidence in knowing its audience, its competitors, the landscape, and how to capitalise on presented opportunities.

Taking to the pitch (know the landscape)

When your arch-rival pulls a clever PR stunt, the batting pads should be at the ready. With the sporting scene usually evoking strong emotional reactions from audiences, on a national level, it flows over into patriarchy. With cricket an integral part of both English and Australian cultures – and even more so, fuel for the Land Down Under and British rivalry – Marmite were smart enough to jump on the front foot with their PR stunt. They handed out jars to anyone willing to accept the toast topper, donning the baggy-green or not. Thanks to Vegemite’s marketing team keeping a close eye on both the pitch, wickets, bowler, field, and even the crowd, their quick wits and even quicker response meant the English stunt opened the door for Vegemite to steal the limelight, stirring up all sense of patriarchy. What better stage to fan the fire of this fully-fledged rivalry?

Connecting bat with ball….and hitting a six (know your brand to see opportunity)

As savoury toast toppers from opposite ends of the world, there is no doubt that Marmite and Vegemite have some long-standing beef. Both are staples in their respective countries, but Vegemite holds an arguably more prominent place in Australian culture. Their full-page spread was a direct response to Marmite’s blatant act of ‘poaching’ Vegemite’s customer pool. With the brand’s self-confidence and clear understanding of their position and target audience, Vegemite rose to the occasion through nothing more patriarchal than a little bit of ‘barmy’ Aussie slang – a brazen attempt at reminding their loyal fans of sun, beaches, koalas, and all things Australian. In true Oz style, the full-page spread placed by Vegemite continued with their own PR stunt, asking loyalists in their native tongue – Aussie slang – to show their true green and gold colours, adding Vegemite red to that yellow jacket sported at Lord’s.

Knowing how to please a crowd (know the target audience)

Throughout this battle, Vegemite played into the strong sense of Australian pride and patriotism with language both cheeky and slightly inflammatory – knowing just where to hit the ball, to evoke the right reaction. Acknowledging the ‘refined English palate’ prefers the taste of Marmite, Vegemite placed a firm backhanded compliment before appealing to Australians, with its flavour of ‘resilience and fortitude’ – and flaunting the 251-run victory during the first Ashes 2019 test. A brilliant and powerful example of the brand knowing their target audience – and their competitors.

The Mite Brand War vs The Ashes

We know fortune favours the bold, and both brands of Mite continue dishing it up to each other with their ongoing war through spreads and PR stunts. A great example of a brand’s self-confidence in knowing its audience, competitors, the landscape and opportunities presented – as well as never taking your eye off the ball, this brand battle continues to be a thrilling watch. While this writer is not enthused by cricket, she will be cheering the green and gold with a passionate sense of patriarchy each morning, as she eats her Vegemite-covered toast and reads about the latest move in the battle of the top toast topper.

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