One supplier has been left licking its wounds after Vegemite severed ties following a staggering 74 years of working together – proving that customer relationships can never be taken for granted.
Followings the brand’s acquisition last year by Bega Cheese as part of the sale of Mondelez Foods by US-owned Kraft, Bega Foods has announced it will take on creative agency Thinkerbell to manage the marketing of both the Bega and Vegemite brands.
The shift to the Melbourne-based start-up agency ends the 74-year relationship that Vegemite had with international agency JWT (J Walter Thompson).
“The decision to change agencies comes off the back of the Bega Cheese acquiring the Mondelez Foods business in 2017 and bringing Vegemite into Australian ownership for the first time in over 90 years,” Bega said in a statement.
“This milestone triggered a desire within the marketing team to re-invigorate the business’ agency roster with a bold and ambitious approach to the brand’s management.”
Bega Foods marketing director Ben Hill said the company is looking to capitalise on the upturn in sales that has been generated by the publicity of Vegemite returning to Australian ownership.
“With a new team and new outlook, we are thrilled to be working closely with Thinkerbell to instil the Vegemite and Bega brands further into the Australian psyche,” Mr Hill said.
However, he also paid tribute to Vegemite’s long-standing partner, which made Vegemite a household name thanks to its famed “Happy Little Vegemites” campaign.
A spokesperson for JWT said the agency was understandably “disappointed” not to be continuing with the brand.
“J Walter Thompson is particularly proud of the agency’s role in building one of Australia’s most iconic and loved brands – we’ve been the constant during three brand-ownership changes, a shifting social landscape and reshaped breakfast category,” the spokesperson said.
“We are proud of the fact that our relationship with Vegemite spanned more than 70 years; one of the longest and most successful agency/brand relationships in the industry.”
They added: “It’s been a long and happy little Vegemite story for J. Walter Thompson – and we wish the brand well for its next brand chapter.”
It goes without saying that the case demonstrates why businesses of all size should not take long-standing partnerships and customers for granted.
Another prominent foodie, TV chef and restaurateur Matt Moran previously told My Business that he is very careful to maintain relationships with the farmers that supply produce for his restaurants because of the impact they have on his own business.
“[I] don’t take them for granted because they work damn bloody hard to get this incredible produce. And chefs are only as good as what they are using. If we don’t have the farmers and the producers, then we don’t have chefs. Full stop,” he said.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.