CAMPAIGN: Squeezy Marmite launch shows class

The packaging of iconic British ­savoury goo Marmite had remained relatively unchanged for more than 100 years. So when Unilever decided to launch ‘squeezy’ Marmite, it hired Splendid Communications.

Client: Marmite
Campaign: Launch of Squeezy Marmite
PR team: Splendid Communications
Timescale: Ten months
Budget: Undisclosed

To increase frequency of purchase from 2.2 to 2.3 jars per year. To attract younger, single, lapsed users and ABC1 mums. To grow sales volume by five per cent. To achieve 148 pieces of coverage, with a reach of 50 million.

Strategy and plan
Splendid developed a campaign that stayed true to Marmite’s love/hate personality while reinforcing the brand values of quirky, witty, British and iconic. ‘Squeeze Me’ badges and stress balls were sent to journalists, and T-shirts were sent to opinion-forming Marmite fans, including Alex Best.

To encourage fans to use Marmite in ways other than on toast, Splendid got Gary Rhodes to create a menu of dishes using Marmite, which he served at Rhodes’ 24 restaurant.

As well as pan-fried seabass with soft potato and spicy spring onion Marmite dressing, Rhodes also dreamed up a controversial ice-cream with Marmite chocolate sauce and Marmite syrup.
Splendid then created Marmart – a nationwide competition searching for the best ‘toast artists’, using toast as the canvas and Marmite as the paint.

An exhibition was created, with a selection of the best entries turned into canvasses and displayed at the Air Gallery in London. Linda Barker ran inter­active Marmart workshops and artist Dermot Flynn created ‘Marmarts’ of Victoria Beckham, Gordon Ramsay and Simon Cowell – celebrities who ­divide the nation. The last 57g glass jar was sold on eBay, as were Marmart pieces – the proceeds of which went to children’s art charity Room 13.

Measurement and evaluation
The launch itself generated a feature in The Guardian’s G2 and two features in The Independent. It was also covered in The Times, Daily Mail and Daily ­Mirror. Squeezy Marmite featured on the BBC’s Working Lunch and Five’s The Wright Stuff. Women’s magazines Reveal, Real, Woman and Prima also covered it in their food pages.

Gary Rhodes’ recipes inspired ­pieces in Hello and Now magazines and a taste test on ITV Central news.

The celebrity toast art for the Marmart activity resulted in three national features and five regional features, and appeared on This Morning, Newsround and Have I Got News For You. BBC News Online included the art in its top ten photos of the year. The sale of Dermot Flynn’s Marmart made £920 for Room 13 and generated a full page feature in the South Wales Echo.

A total of 270 pieces of coverage were created with Splendid claiming a reach of over 276 million. The campaign had a total PR value of over £2.15m, with a cost per thousand impressions of 90p.

The Marmart website had over 57,000 visits over six weeks. More than 260 ­people created pieces of Marmart and uploaded them onto the site and 40,000 people voted online. Sales volume grew by six per cent after just nine months and the jar purchase frequency increased to 2.3.

The PR campaign results were visible on Millward Brown data, with awareness via PR coverage peaking at 19 per cent at the Marmart campaign stage.

‘It’s not often you see a PR campaign come through into Millward Brown,’ says brand manager Cheryl Calverley.



Caroline Kinsey, company director of Cirkle: On the face of it, gett­ing coverage for a food brand that has been around forever is not an enviable task. This is especially true when the brand in question has no preten­sions of being a trendy ‘superfood’ and is actually loathed by a signi­ficant section of the population.

But this is Marmite, an iconic brand with a personality etched into the British psyche. It also helps that Marmite is a Unilever brand, and therefore carries con­siderable clout, and no doubt bud­get.

The truly standout part of the campaign was Marmart and the eBay auctions for the last glass jar.

By opening Marmart to consu­mers (and using Linda Barker to front it) the brand retained its fam­ily, mass-market appeal.

Marmart could have real long­evity, rolling out to schools, on pack and beyond the launch phase, and it will be interesting to see if the brand comes back to it in the future.

I am also less than convinced by the way the evaluation was presented. Both the initial 50 million target and 276m actual ‘reach’ figures quoted were really ‘oppor­tunities to see’. After all, there aren’t 276m people in the whole country. The evaluation should measure how many of the target audience the campaign reached, and how often, to give a more rel­evant measure of success.

But despite that, the campaign was obviously a huge triumph, mainly because it stayed true to the personality of the brand and gave real media bite to what was, essentially, just a new pack format.


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in