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Marmite accused of bad taste

August, 2013

It certainly looks like the nation’s ability to laugh at itself is on the decline, if the recent furore over the Marmite advert is anything to go by.

With voiceover by TV presenter and newsreader Michael Buerk, the advert portrays a team of uniformed pseudo animal welfare inspectors raiding homes and rescuing neglected jars of Marmite. The advert marked Marmite’s return to television advertising after a two year absence, as part of the £2m integrated campaign including www.endmarmiteneglect.com

After the ‘End Marmite neglect’ advert (below) was shown during a Coronation Street break there was a rapid backlash on the ‘Love it, Hate it’ brand’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. The Advertising Standards Authority received more than 275 complaints with many claiming that it ridiculed the work of animal charities and child protection agencies.

Andrew Metcalf, director of Maxim, said: “It looks like some people are simply waiting to be offended, which means Britain’s marketing creatives will become more risk averse.

“For decades UK television advertising has used humour to build brand awareness and engage with customers. Who can forget Blackcurrant Tango ‘St George’ marching on top of the White Cliffs, or the Carling Black Label ‘dambusters’ adverts, but it’s unlikely that either of these landmark adverts would now be signed off by brand owners.”

Quick to complain

Thanks to the immediacy of social media it appears people are all too ready to fire off a complaint, which means there’s a need to respond quickly to protect hard earned reputation and brand values.

Andrew Metcalf added: “Marmite was quick off the mark and subsequently donated £18,000 to the RSPCA, equivalent to running the animal welfare service for a day. They also apologised if the light-hearted advert had caused offence.

“However, I’m sure that more people liked the advert than hated it and the same can be said of Marmite. Just as happened when news broke of the ‘death’ of Heinz Salad Cream, I’m sure there’ll be a boost in Marmite sales. I opened our jar last night, and it’s nearly finished; let’s hope the furore is. I’m off to Tesco.”

Andrew Metcalf - Director

Andrew Metcalf

Maxim / Director

posted in: advice, marketing, reputation management,

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