As the first instalment of our annual DUMB REPORT, it’s hard to look beyond the most discussed media and marketing experiment for 2009: Kraft’s controversial crowdsourcing campaign and the naming of iSnack 2.0. To suggest another dumb moment, click here or tweet us on hashtag #dumbreport. We’ll be giving you the chance to vote in the People’s Poll of Business Blunders, once we have revealed our Top 10.
Few marketing campaigns copped more consumer and industry criticism than Kraft’s first foray into social media marketing. The crowdsourcing experiment, designed to name a new version of Vegemite, delivered an omnibus of naming options from Vegemite fans (10,000, in fact). Yet, according to speculative newspaper reporters at the time, the final name was chosen by a panel of “marketing and communication experts” to appeal to a younger market, capitalising on the popularity of Apple’s iPod and iPhone.
The choice immediately drew almost universal criticism and, within days, opinion columns and social networking sites were flooded with derision and vitriol. Several critics also pointed out that the name is not even original; iSnack is the name of an energy bar manufactured by South African company PVM Products and is also the trademark used by Ideal Snacks (iSnack), an American Corn Chip manufacturer. Breville also trademarked the term iSnack with IP Australia in 2001.
On 30 September 2009, bowing to significant pressure from consumers, Kraft released plans to abandon the iSnack name, admitting that it may have been a mistake. Kraft’s head of corporate affairs Simon Talbot stated, “There’s a distinct possibility that we’ll be critically evaluating the name… the name isn’t resonating with success or favour.” Two days later, Kraft opened a new poll on its website offering six possible names for the product. These included the three most popular names from the original poll, as well as three others that Kraft considered “worthy of consideration based on consumer feedback”.
Here’s our tip for the marketing mavericks at Kraft.
Sandwich spread is never going to be ‘cool’. We respect your intentions but nevertheless agree with the OzSoapBox blog: It takes a long stretch of the grey matter to envisage a world where kids might gather around the playground to compare condiments, wake up early to watch the new show on spread tv or begin to start trading Vegemite cards.
To borrow from the monosyllabic vernacular of the crowd you covet… #FAIL. Because of you, ‘i’ named products will now forever be tainted by the smell of cheese and yeast. And for that, Kraft earns a prestigious position in Anthill’s 2009 Dumb Report.