Vegemite calls on Aussies to record new jingle
It's a tune millions of Australians grew up with - and now Vegemite is calling on the nation to give its classic theme song a new life.
"Who knows, we might find another great Australian talent out of this," says Trish Cavanagh, who was one of the stars of the original Happy Little Vegemites TV ad. "And it's a great way to lift people's spirits and give them a laugh, which we all could use right now."
The famous song was first penned by advertising executive Alan Weekes in 1954.
But Happy Little Vegemites didn't become the renowned tune it is today until an ad featuring a group of young Australian children singing the jingle while dancing and performing acrobatics went to air in 1959.
Cavanagh, who is perhaps best remembered as the baton-twirling young girl sitting atop a giant jar of Vegemite says that back then, no-one had any idea how big the song would become.
"Nobody knew how wonderful this particular jingle and the ad would be, or that it would become part of television history, Vegemite's history and Australia's history," she says. Cavanagh was seven when the commercials were filmed at Sydney's Pagewood Studios, but says with a laugh that the one thing the young starlets couldn't get their hands on while filming the commercial were some Vegemite sandwiches to tide over their hunger.
"It was a happy time, making those ads. Little did I know what meaning this would have in my life," Cavanagh says, adding, "even now, everywhere I go I'm asked to sing it! So to hear that they're bringing it back to see what someone can do and if someone can better it as a bit of fun, that's wonderful."
Indeed, Weekes's tune has proved to stand the test of time so uniquely that in 2009, Happy Little Vegemites was inducted into the Australian Film and Sound Archives.
"It's just part of our culture, really, and it'll never be forgotten," Cavanagh says. "Everybody knows it, and it has been said that the jingle can be sung better and more accurately by more Australians than the national anthem. I don't think we'll ever see the end of that jingle."
From today, Vegemite's parent company, Bega, is holding a national competition to find the next best cover from aspiring singers and Vegemite fans.
Entrants can record their own version of the jingle before sharing their take on social media. They will then go into the running to win a main prize of $2000 and have their song played on national radio. The runner-up will also win $500. Melbourne artists G Flip and Banoffee are already on board. Both say they're ready to hear a new rendition of the song embedded into childhood memories and our national history.
"As someone who's been known to carry Vegemite in my suitcase wherever I go, I was thrilled to be asked to make my own version of the Vegemite jingle. I've sung it my whole childhood so why not now? I'm so excited to hear all the different ways people will redo this iconic tune," Banoffee says.
For G Flip's rendition, inspiration came straight from the source itself. "Vegemite gave me the heads up and told me they were asking for new renditions of their classic Happy Little Vegemites tune, so I took my toast down to my studio and made a little G Flip version."
Bega Foods marketing head Matt Gray says they want to hear "some distinctive voices bring our jingle to life. We know Vegemite tastes like Australia, but it's now time that we find out what Australia sounds like."
Originally published as Vegemite calls on Aussies to record new jingle