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    Opinion: The new Marmite advert divides the nation, but why so many complaints?

Opinion: The new Marmite advert divides the nation, but why so many complaints?

Posted by Liv Siddall,

This week, assistant editor Liv Siddall asks why there were so many complaints over the new Marmite advert when it is, essentially, just a good advert. What do you think? Love it or hate it? Comments welcome.

A new advert aired yesterday for much-loved British food staple, Marmite. The new ad campaign is inspired by a juicy fact they have unearthed from some obligatory primary research: one in ten Brits have a jar of Marmite that has been left unopened for over three months.

The advert, like many, has been shot in the humorous mockumentary style, and the series of short films in the series that are available to watch on YouTube show Marmite welfare officers entering homes to rescue un-loved jars of the sticky black spread to hopefully give to new and more loving homes. Cut to a scene of a Battersea Dog’s Home-style room of cages and happy families choosing their jar to adopt and you’ve got yourself a very funny, very well-edited little advert for something that, let’s face it, is so popular that it doesn’t even need advertising.

Suddenly, the morning after its release there are reams and reams of complaints pouring in from all over the country, accusing the advert of making a mockery of child welfare and animal rescue teams. 250 complaints were made to Watchdog alone. The Advertising Standards Agency have labelled the advert to be “in poor taste” and “deeply offensive”

HOLD UP for just one minute. This is offensive? A lot of things are offensive. Certain newspapers, certain reality TV programs, and perhaps some erotically-charged chart music, but I do not think a humorous short film made by a creative agency can be classed as “deeply offensive.” This advert is taking a sandwich spread and putting it into a different context, throwing in a element of drama and emotion to add to the humour – a formula that has been used countless times in the history of advertising. Even if it was inspired by adverts where animal welfare officers get out of vans in the rain to go and put a blanket around a dog, it’s hardly mercilessly taking the piss out out of them for doing a good job, it’s gently mocking something that the public are aware of. Gently mocking.

The United Kingdom boasts one of, if not the best, advertising industries in the world. We’ve got wit, self-deprecation and extremely good creative teams who make it their business to work extremely hard on making adverts that are not just “Buy this now. It is good” like so many American adverts are. We should encourage creativity in adverts, or we face being bombarded from all sides with people selling us things in a way that lacks any wit or creative merit.

Adverts should divide the nation, especially Marmite adverts, but this ain’t no scantily clad woman in a Renault-type advert – this is an example of good, British advertising agencies using good British humour to sell us something. And I for one am fine with that.

Watch the advert here

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Posted by Liv Siddall

Liv joined It’s Nice That as an intern in 2011 and is now one of our editors. She oversees itsnicethat.com and has a particular interest in illustration, photography and music videos. She also runs our London listings site This At There, and is a regular on our Studio Audience podcast.