• Opinion-lead

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

Advertising

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

comments powered by Disqus
Ls-300

Posted by Liv Siddall

Liv joined It’s Nice That as an intern in 2011 and worked across online, print, events and latterly Features Editor before leaving in May 2015.

Most Recent: Advertising View Archive

  1. 5173

    As the creative world digests last night’s big D&AD winners (those that scooped Black and White Pencils), there was a host of interesting work recognised in the 44 Yellow Pencils given out at the London awards bash. In total, the D&AD juries considered 847 projects this year and so less than one in five made the prestigious Yellow Pencil cut. Here’s our rundown of those winners that caught our eye for one reason or another – you can see the full list of winners over on the D&AD site here.

  2. Michaelbuck-airbnb-house-list

    A few years ago there was a great deal of interest in Artangel’s A Room for London project, which saw Fiona Banner and David Kohn Architects build a boat you could stay in high above the South Bank. Today Airbnb has twisted that idea round for its own stunt, floating a 70-tonne house down the River Thames. Designed by Steve and Nick Tidball, creative directors of the TBWA agency, it includes two bedrooms, a working bathroom and a garden with real grass and an apple tree. It will meander up and down the river throughout the week, hosting various events and even some sleepovers.

  3. Ogilvy_dog_batterseafull-its-nice-that-list

    OgilvyOne UK and Framestore have made a sweet, scruffy little dog called Barley on a billboard seem to follow people around, looking them in the eye and wagging his tail in response to the movements of passers-by. The campaign for Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, called #LookingForYou sees billboards at east London’s Westfield Stratford City shopping centre “come to life” when people take a leaflet about the charity. Each leaflet contains an RFID tag which activates Barley – a former Battersea dog – to follow them as they walk past the billboards and interact with them. It’s a sweet campaign that goes hard on the emotional pull, perhaps likely to affect those in the strange dystopia of a huge shopping centre more than most. Aside from the cuteness, the tech is very impressive, and it’s worth noting that Framestore was also behind one of the most heart-string-tugging films of the past few years, Paddington.

  4. Scottking-popkultur-itsnicethat-list

    There used to be a comedy on British TV called Goodness Gracious Me which had a sketch where an Indian father would tell his son that every public figure you could possibly think of – from the Queen to David Beckham – was in fact Indian. There was something very funny about his claiming credit for anyone and everyone, and I was reminded of that idea when I saw Scott King’s new campaign for the Pop-Kultur festival.

  5. Obv-campaign-itsnicethat-list

    The impending general election in Britain is encouraging a spurt of striking advertising campaigns and creative efforts to encourage potential voters, not least Pentagram’s “Give an X” campaign, and this new offering by Saatchi & Saatchi for Operation Black Vote is particularly powerful. The campaign is intended to boost the numbers of black, Asian and ethnic minority voters, in order to attain greater representation of Britain’s diverse population in government. Featuring Paralympic athlete Ade Adepitan, actor David Harewood, rapper Tinie Tempah and footballer Sol Campbell with their faces painted white, the campaign reasserts the quotation “If you don’t register to vote, you’re taking the colour out of Britain.”

  6. List

    If you’re a luddite like me you’ll find that most technology needs careful and thorough explanation – ideally some kind of video infomercial that leads me step-by-step through the device at hand. Now that I think about it I’d also like the instructions to be given by an attractive female presenter with an overdubbed male voice; she should be smoking occasionally and if possible exude an air of insouciance. The guys at Impossible and Stark Films have been kind enough to meet all these stringent requirements in their latest promotion for Instant Lab, a product which prints polaroids directly from your phone, showing off all the gadget’s new features. They’re also offering 10% off the Instant Lab to our readers by using the discount code “itsnicethat” in their online shop. What a friendly bunch!

  7. Wieden_kennedy-nike-itsnicethat-list

    The US Masters is arguably the most anticipated event in the golfing world, and as Thursday’s tee-off draws ever nearer all eyes are on British hopeful Rory McIlroy. But as ever there’s also a lot of attention on Tiger Woods, whose scintillating talent can’t be ignored despite his much-publicised personal problems. With a lot made of the showdown between the two, it’s interesting to think that for years Rory idolised Tiger and this journey from fanboy to rival is played out with typical aplomb in Wieden + Kennedy’s new Nike spot.

  8. Rickygervais-netflix-int-list

    Ricky Gervais is a figure who splits opinion and for every acolyte who hails him as the saviour of contemporary comedy, there’s plenty more who just can’t stand that laugh. I happen to be in the former camp and I am also a fan of postmodern advertising, so these new spots for Optus push pretty much all of my buttons. Commissioned to promote the Australian telecoms company bringing Netflix Down Under, Gervais is on typically obtuse form, whingeing about the expectations put on him, shamelessly plugging his own successes and revelling in his own unprofessionalism. Your views on Gervais will dictate your reaction to these, but if like me you enjoy his posturing then there’s plenty here to enjoy.

  9. 4creative-grandnational-int-list

    When a promo advert for one of the world’s most famous horse races drops into my inbox I have certain preconceptions about what’s it’s going to look like – mainly close-ups of thundering hooves and gurning punters. It’s fair to say this Grand National spot from Channel 4’s 4Creative agency and Nexus directors Alan Smith and Adam Foulkes confounded all of my expectations.

  10. Kevin-bacon-int-list

    Every advert that Kevin Bacon has ever starred in has been leading up to this moment – the one where he is cast in a commercial to advertise eggs. Because he is Bacon! So he goes well with eggs!

  11. Wiedenkennedy-honda-list

    Nice simple idea here from Wieden + Kennedy to introduce Honda’s new range of cars under the wider umbrella of the brand’s boundary-pushing approach. Keep Up begins as a spot that challenges the viewer to, well, keep up with text that runs across the screen – against a backdrop of a vast expanse of desert – culminating in the line “Get to better faster.” But rather than leave it at that, the idea is taken onto its logical next step, with viewers directed to a second spot where the text goes even quicker, and then to a third where the words positively shoot across the screen. What’s interesting is how your mind adapts and you are able to follow the sense of it even at breakneck speed, which is a neat way of encapsulating the brand message in a very human, individual way.

  12. Queen-list

    Turns out even Prince Charles and Camilla are prone to some Royal cock-ups on Mother’s Day, if a new ad for The Body Shop is to be believed. The brilliant spot by Mr President and Alison Jackson shows Charlie and Cam struggling, as many of us do, to make the morning just perfect for Her Majesty, burning the toast, making a shambles of Sellotaping gifts and goofing around washing the corgis. Where they do succeed, however, is in making the boiled eggs into very British little soldiers. It’s a really clever campaign – sweet, funny, brilliantly written and replete with Harry dashing down the stairs clutching champagne, wearing nothing but his pants (Union Jack-patterned, of course.) And if you want some tips from the hapless pair before this Sunday, there are six additional films showing the prep in more detail, including “How to blow-dry a corgi” and “How to make a breakfast fit for a queen.” Great work, Alison!

  13. Geicoad-int-1

    When an insurance company challenges you to not skip through their latest ad on YouTube, your first reaction is likely to be “try me.” But you know what? They have actually pulled something pretty remarkable together for their latest advert. Well, I say remarkable, it’s pretty low-budget, but the idea behind it is great. Knowing that the majority of people wouldn’t watch an insurance ad on YouTube unless you were holding a gun to their head, they made their advert two seconds long. Then if like me you enjoy the first two seconds, you can stay for the whole thing. Best thing about this ad is how they didn’t even green screen the family, and you can see them wigging out and twitching as that dog goes all Beethoven on their dinner. Well done The Martin Agency for keeping us on our toes.