I recently made the bold, and potentially controversial move of changing my blog’s name – goodbye the formal, learned and slightly robot-like ‘adpraisal’, and hello ‘Marzipan and Marmite’. My reasoning being that I like my posts to provoke thought, debate and emotion (at best) and Marmite and Marzipan are foods examplar of this. Who hasn’t had that discussion on the merits of Marmite? Or whether the best bit of a cake is its Marzipan exterior?
This is got me thinking about Marmite as a brand – bravely going, where few brands have gone before, into the unchartered “haters” category. Product honesty at its best and most lucid. An attempt to create a response and a backlash of vigorous pro-Marmite support – a fan club spreading the love, bathing in the brown stuff while watching Marmite screensavers. A campaign that seems purpose-built to social media and fitting to an antagonstic breakfast scene. And also a product that is resolutely British, a relish you find at the checkout queues in Heathrow.
As such, imagine my surprise when I discover this February 2010 campaign for the brand, with no classic tagline and suggesting that it sells ‘washing powder’ instead (if only!). The campaign by DDB London plays by on the idea of brand extensions (something I briefly mentioned regarding the Cosmopolitan yoghurt), humorously pointing out that they may have gone too far (e.g. Marmite shower gel), but not far enough (concerning their new cereal bar). The only thing is that because Marmite is owned by Unilever, the idea of Marmite producing cleaning products is not inconceivable. In fact, adding a massive U for Unilever in the corner of the ad positions the brand in that awkward place between taking the mickey out of themselves, and being truthful and sales-driven. The question being, while the ad may grab peoples’ attention and get them thinking, does it actually convince them to buy this, not too unworldly, Marmite snack bar? The answer is perhaps – given that it relates to the whole “doesn’t sound right but it is” ploy and divisiveness of Marmite’s marketing strategy.
Thus, if Marmite was a person – I doubt that I would like them (think a lot of attitude and rather gloating). But as a campaign, this work is ballsy and quirky enough for me to mention it. That and I would very much like to try some Marmite shower gel, although the perfume less so.