Analysing the success of Marmite’s viral ad campaign

Given that Britain is purportedly such a nation of animal lovers, the PR and marketing teams at Unilever knew they had dynamite on their hands once their latest ad campaign, ‘End Marmite Neglect’, was broadcast at the beginning of this week.

And it’s safe to say the responses came from both ends of the scale.

For non-UK readers the food product, with its famous ‘you either love it or hate it’ tagline, released an ad campaign spoofing animal rescue units by rescuing ‘neglected’ jars of Marmite. The advert’s twist relates to a refreshing of the famous tagline to ‘Love it. Hate it. Just don’t forget it’.

Consequently 280 complaints were lodged to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which may not come as a huge surprise given some of the comments on the official Marmite Facebook page:









In the ensuing fallout, a spokesman for Marmite said: “It is never our intention to cause offence. We have made every effort to ensure that this commercial entertains anyone who watches it.”

A spokesman for animals rights activist group PETA added: “As an organisation with great affection for Marmite and for all living beings, PETA welcomes the advert because while it is tongue in cheek about the neglect of the jarred yeasty spread, it is jarring enough to remind viewers of the hard job that animal law-enforcement officers have and may generate calls about real abuse of real animals, doing a world of good.”

Yet it has not ended there. Reports today claim that Unilever, the company which owns Marmite, is to donate £18,000 to the RSPCA, which equates to the cost of running its inspectorate service for one day.

So in terms of outgoings, add that to the reported £2m it cost to create the campaign. But what has Marmite got in tangible return, apart from the old adage that ‘any publicity is good publicity?’ Let us know what you think in the comments – watch the advert below:

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14 Aug 2013, 10:38 p.m.

They must have considered this risk - but it is quite a catchy theme. For me it does go a bit far into the animal neglect thing - I can see the humour in it, but the art direction has really pushed the emotional pull of neglect. While this tugs at your heartstrings (good advertising is supposed to do that), I think it could have been art directed a bit more light-heartedly. It is very serious doc style whereas perhaps a slight more spoofy take might not have raised so many eyebrows. Still, the PR of this will be worth their weight in gold from a ROI point of view.