The viral marketing metaphor explored through Vegemite

Michael Beverland, Angela Dobele, Francis Farrelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (SciVal)


Purpose – 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. Design/methodology/approach – 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. Findings – 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. Originality/value – This study is unique because it proposes an alternative focus to a fundamental metaphor and has both conceptual and practical value.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)656-674
Number of pages19
JournalMarketing Intelligence and Planning
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2015


  • Co-creation
  • Consumer culture theory
  • Social media
  • Viral marketing


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