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
hot-toast.com. 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
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