Campaigns: Spreading the Marmite message - Consumer PR

The latest Marmite ads were shown on television from October 1999. They featured a young couple returning to the girl’s flat after a night out.

The latest Marmite ads were shown on television from October 1999.

They featured a young couple returning to the girl’s flat after a night


When they kiss, the boy starts retching: the girl has just eaten a bagel

loaded with Marmite. The slogan is: you either love it or you hate


Marmite manufacturer Bestfoods asked Manning Selvage and Lee to support

the advertising with PR to boost Marmite as a brand, rather than as a



To create a media and consumer buzz around the advertising campaign and

make sure the target audience of 18- to 34-year-olds was talking about

it by extending the love it/hate it theme.

Strategy and Plan

Using Target Group Index data, MS&L identified the best ways to reach

the target audience of young and lapsed Marmite eaters. This showed that

a high percentage of them were based in London and the South East, and

at university. The best channels to reach them were identified as

commercial radio, specifically Heart FM, pubs and clubs, the tabloid

press, consumer magazines, and the internet.

The PR team devised a programme of activity with the aim of reaching the

audience in their natural habitat and stimulating chatter about the ad.

The campaign also targeted key radio DJs and editors to encourage the

use of the ’love it or hate it’ phrase, and publicised the female star

of the ad, model Alex Gain.

The ’love it or hate it’ strand in universities involved inserting two

cards in student magazine Fresh Direction to send to friends, with

advertorials offering ’love and hate’ tips on student life. In pubs and

clubs the team produced a series of postcards for the target group to

send to their favourite and least favourite people, which were placed in

400 venues in London and the South East.

The radio element of the campaign was based around a one-week promotion

with Heart FM, where Jono and the morning crew discussed ’love and hate

on a date’ experiences and held a listener phone-in, with the best story

each day winning a European weekend for two, plus Marmite and


Virgin Radio DJ Chris Evans also responded on air to receiving a Marmite

breakfast pack. Evans called the campaign ’very brave’ and said: ’We are

the Marmite of radio, no doubt.’

The internet campaign took the form of a link-up with student web site A daily opinion poll from Marmite was set up on the

homepage for users to vote ’love it’ or ’hate it’ on celebrities,

issues, and food.

In addition, MS&L was also pro-active in offering exclusive ’Who’s that

girl?’ media interviews with Alex Gain, after she had been given media


Measurement and Evaluation

Measurement and evaluation was an integral part of this campaign,right

from the start.

There was 100 per cent pick-up of more than 90,000 postcards, reaching

83 per cent of 18- to 34-year-olds in the target region, with no

allowance made for pass-on effect. The coverage on Heart FM reached more

than eight million listeners, representing 11.5 per cent of people aged

15 and over in London.

The active promotion of the model in the ad led to coverage in the

Mirror, the Sun, the Express and the Guardian, with a total reach of

nearly 19.5 million, representing 47 per cent of 18-24 year olds.

Analysis by Metrica showed all the media coverage was either favourable

or strongly favourable, and there were almost five mentions of Marmite

per article.

After the campaign, Research International’s consumer survey found that

12 per cent agreed that Marmite was a brand that was being talked about,

and 25 per cent agreed that the ad had got people talking.


MS&L brought an amusing TV ad to life, resulting in far more media

coverage and consumer brand awareness than would have been the case if

the ad had been left to itself.

Campaign: Marmite Love it or Hate it

Client: Bestfoods UK

PR Team: Manning Selvage and Lee

Timescale: October - December 1999

Budget: Fees of pounds 40,000

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