Reviews: TV Commercial; Yeast extract with irony

BMP DDB Needham

Marmite has wheeled out one of the oldest advertising cliches in the book for its latest advertising offensive: the taste test. The recipe is delightfully simple: take a selection of product samples to the man in the street, encourage them to try it and film the hilarious results.

There have already been numerous variations on this theme, including a supermarket challenge for Stork Margarine, the Daz doorstep challenge and, the mother of them all, the Pepsi Challenge taste test which, after decades, is still going strong.

Now comes Marmite with its particular twist on the well-worn theme. The scene: a local shopping centre. The cast: shiny Marmite reps in natty uniforms proffering toast spread with Marmite to unsuspecting shoppers. The plot: some passers-by love it, others loathe it. The denouement: chaos, as Marmite lovers storm the reps to get some more.

The message? Goodness only knows. For as we all know only too well, some people love Marmite while others hate it. In fact, "love it, loathe it' is the theme of Marmite's current campaign.

What the new ad fails to address is just how to encourage lapsed eaters (or those poor souls who have never tasted it) to give it a go. Positioning it as something you'll either love or loathe is hardly an enticing proposition.

Still, the ad's been made with tongue firmly in cheek as part of a broader campaign meticulously crafted to build the Marmite cult. As well as the TV commercial, which broke on TV this week (10 November), there's also two poster ads aimed at drivers: "Honk if you eat Marmite" and "You'll honk if you eat Marmite".

Perhaps the most inspired element, however, is an Oxford Union debate to be staged by the food company at the Union next Monday (17 November).

"This house believes that Marmite is a national icon and, as such, should be subsidised by the government and given freely to all British citizens" is the topic up for discussion. Marmite fanatics Neil and Christine Hamilton will argue the case for - proof, surely, that the couple will take money for anything.

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