It’s Official: The World Has Gone Crazy

New Marmite Campaign Divides Opinion
Original Image: Marmite Facebook Page

Love it or hate it, Marmite has been positioned as a product that divides opinion for many years. Built upon and embracing the fact that some people adore it and others, well, not so much, it’s always been great fun. Until now.

A storm has blown up over the product’s latest TV ad, which depicts workers rescuing jars of neglected Marmite from the back of kitchen cupboards as if they were neglected pets. For me, it’s a stroke of genius, not only for being hilarious, entertaining and reflecting the brand’s persona beautifully, but for the fact that it’s based, once again, on insight. That insight being a consumer study which revealed that one in ten people haven’t opened their jar of Marmite for three months. See? Clever.

But apparently not everyone’s as impressed as me. In just two days, more than 400 people have complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about the ad being “offensive to the work of animal protection agencies” and being “in poor taste”. (As an aside, if I were Marmite I’d be all over the “poor taste” complaint like a rash!)

Seriously? 400 people have nothing better to do with their time than to make an official complaint about the advertising for a savoury spread?! Give me a break…

Marmite is so well-known for its brand positioning that the name is now used as an adjective to describe something that divides opinion. As in, ‘David Beckham is a bit marmite’. So for the life of me, I don’t understand how anyone can take offence to what is simply a bit of fun. When did we lose our sense of humour, people?!

A spokesperson for the brand has said that the ad itself is supposed to be marmite: some people will love it, some people will hate it, but they won’t forget it. They did clarify, however, that it wasn’t intended to cause offence. And in a nice bit of PR, Marmite manufacturer Unilever has donated £18,000 to the RSPCA.

But to my mind, it should never have had to. It’s nothing short of preposterous to suggest that this ad is disrespectful to animal protection agencies. If anything, it promotes them. Doesn’t it?

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Posted by Paul Sutton

  • Sally

    For me, what was telling was the statement from PETA praising the ad for being funny and clever, and putting the issue of animal welfare into people’s minds. Rather than seeing it as derogatory PETA thought the ad could only promote awareness and possible positive action.

    I think people increasingly look for reasons to be outraged. It’s about powerlessness in other areas of like, I think.

    • Paul Sutton

      Maybe you’re right, Sally. It’d be interesting to know a bit more about those 400 people. Having an opinion and not liking it is one thing – each to his own – but actually writing a letter of complaint?! Jeesh…

  • Sammy Mansourpour (@TheAgencyUK)

    Part of me can’t help feeling that the complaints and subsequent publicity might have been engineered? The arguments divisiveness is very in line with the Marmite brand proposition.

    • Paul Sutton

      I know what you mean, Sammy. If anything, it enhances the campaign. And what a fantastic bundle of free PR! But to engineer 400 complaints to the ASA…if that were to happen and anyone found out…disaster! Not worth the risk and they don’t need it.