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The viral marketing metaphor explored through Vegemite

Michael Beverland (School of Management, University of Bath, Bath, United Kingdom AND School of Economics, Finance & Marketing, RMIT University, Victoria, Australia.)
Angela Dobele (School of Economics, Finance & Marketing, RMIT University, Victoria, Australia)
Francis Farrelly (School of Economics, Finance & Marketing, RMIT University, Victoria, Australia)

Marketing Intelligence & Planning

ISSN: 0263-4503

Article publication date: 3 August 2015




Viral marketing draws heavily on the success of a few mythic campaigns. However, the viral metaphor limits previous perspectives as to why consumers engage with content and importantly, why they pass it on. The paper aims to discuss this issue.


The authors explore why consumers engaged with Kraft’s “How do you love your Vegemite?” campaign using multiple sources of evidence including interviews, blog post comments, and firm market research.


The choice to engage with content is driven by consumers’ desire for self-authentication, in particular the desire to express one’s identity through an authenticating act, and express membership of a collective via an authoritative performance. In so doing, the authors identify the limits of adopting an epidemiological metaphor for campaigns reliant on consumer agency.


This study is unique because it proposes an alternative focus to a fundamental metaphor and has both conceptual and practical value.



The authors thank Simon Talbot, Director, Corporate Affairs Kraft International, Australia/New Zealand for his assistance with this paper.


Beverland, M., Dobele, A. and Farrelly, F. (2015), "The viral marketing metaphor explored through Vegemite", Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 33 No. 5, pp. 656-674.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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