Vegemite drops JWT for Thinkerbell after 74 years

One of the world’s longest agency-client relationships has come to an end, with the creative account for Vegemite moving from J Walter Thomson to Thinkerbell after 74 years.

The review of the roster was triggered by last year’s sale of the Vegemite brand by Mondelez Foods to the Australian-owned Bega Cheese. JWT was the agency behind  “Happy Little Vegemites”, arguably Australia’s best remembered advertising campaign of all time.

Then move marks the biggest win yet for the PWC-backed Thinkerbell, which was formed in Melbourne by creatives Jim Ingram and Ben Couzens and strategist Adam Ferrier just nine months ago

According to this morning’s announcement, the move “is set to challenge the creative minds behind the Vegemite and Bega brands and help move them forward with a strong and insightful new strategy, that seeks to bring science and creativity together.”

Bega said: “While the new partnership is set to propel Vegemite into the future, the team at Vegemite acknowledge with great pride, the extensive success former agency – JWT – had over their history on the brand. JWT were the creative minds behind the now famous “Happy Little Vegemites” campaign Australians still enjoy today. Vegemite enjoyed a strong and successful relationship with JWT that lasted 74 years and produced some of Australia’s favourite moments; connecting the brand to millions of homes and families in Australia and around the world.”

The win is Thinkerbell’s biggest since launching last year

The move follows a formal pitch process launched in October by Ben Hill, Bega Cheese’s director of marketing, innovation and corporate affairs. Hill, spent seven years with Mondelez, before moving to Bega shortly after the sale of the Vegemite brand. Thinkerbell saw off six other agencies including JWT, in the pitch.

Hill said:  “Through recognising the strength in our Australian heritage and our need to focus on the future to continue positive momentum, we felt the time was right to refresh our creative agency. Thinkerbell – a new cutting-edge Australian agency – represent everything that we want our brands to deliver. We anticipate a bright future with Thinkerbell and can’t wait to inspire more Australians than
ever before.”

“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.”

Thinkerbell will also manage the creative execution on Bega Foods brands including Bega Peanut Butter.

Ferrier said, “We feel a great responsibility and are thrilled to be at the helm of the creative execution to drive the future success of brands such as Bega and Vegemite, two of Australia’s most loved and iconic brands.”

Vegemite vies with Ford as being JWT’s longest standing relationship globally. JWT first worked with Henry Ford more than a century ago, before formally becoming Ford’s agency in 1943, also around 74 years ago.

A spokesperson from JWT said in a statement to Mumbrella: “While we’re disappointed not to be working with Bega on the next chapter of the Vegemite journey, 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.

“In fact, our most recent ‘Start happy’ campaign has been highly successful in generating brand equity in what is generally a declining spreads sector.

“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. While it’s worth noting that we were actually awarded the most recent campaign work as the result of a competitive pitch last year, the length of our relationship is testament to the ongoing effectiveness of our work for Vegemite.”


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.