Love it or hate it.
Turning a little jar of yeast extract into a big conversation.
A look back on the past decade of culture-defining advertising
Not many brands can say they’ve had an endline endure for 25 years. Even fewer can claim that a quarter century later, it’s still serving fresh strategies and groundbreaking creative work.
The last decade has of Marmite has shown the importance of our continued north star - Love or Hate - a brand idea that’s helped us to sell 110 million jars and win 63 national and international awards.
Marmite had been an ever-present in people’s households since 1903.
Fast forward to 2013 and despite the fame of the 'Love it or Hate it' campaign, a barrage of new breakfast ‘snack’ competitors meant Marmite was losing households. They needed to climb back to the top spot on the nation’s breakfast tables.
44% of Brits were simply forgetting about Marmite. Their owners knew they were there, but they were forgetting to finish them. We had to end the ‘neglect’: getting Marmite out of the cupboards and back onto the table, before being replaced by brand new jars from the shops.
How could we get Marmite back to the front of the cupboard?
Strategy & Approach
We needed to create behaviour change and get Marmite lovers in principle to start loving Marmite in practice. And this meant getting the jar back at the front of the cupboard, and Marmite back on toast. To put it another way, we had to re-engineer our communications to shift from building the brand to building behaviours.
'Love it or hate it, just don’t forget it.'
The creative was simple but incredibly powerful. People weren't just forgetting their Marmite, they were neglecting them.
We aired a documentary-style film revealing the shocking extent of Marmite's Neglect while using our trademark humour.
Posters also appeared, warning people what to look for. But we didn’t stop there, we even took the campaign to the jar, redesigning our 125g jar to take awareness of neglect to the next level.
- earned media
- 13% in 10 weeks
- sales increase
- 10 weeks
- Sales behaviour sustained
In the 3 years following Neglect, spend was again reduced and sales declined. We knew we needed to look at our lost audiences and reconnect with them.
Insight & Strategic Approach
Analysing audience segments revealed a drastic loss of families with young children. If you don't start to love Marmite when you're young, you never do.
To understand why parents were rejecting Marmite, we considered the mid-week family breakfast. This had now commonly become chaotic before the school run, which meant that trying to make a child taste something known to be divisive in flavour meant that we were falling from the top choice of spread. As one parent put it:
"I hate it, so my kids probably will too. I don't need any more drama in the mornings"
Parents had made the assumption that their love or hate of Marmite is passed down to their children. But we needed to understand if this really was the case?
'Are you born a lover or a hater?'
The question of whether loving or hating Marmite was genetic lead us to the discovery of a ‘Marmite Gene’.
We conducted a genuine scientific investigation, collecting 261 saliva swabs and conducting 8,760 hours of analysis. In order to conduct this test, we sent out real kits, plus aired a 90-second film during primetime family shows such as The X Factor.
With a limited budget, we weren’t content with a digital campaign. Instead, our ad showed families reacting to their gene test results, heightening conversation and building a desire to discover more.
We sent buyers personalized jars alongside the DNA test kits.
When the scientists called, we had definitive proof that love or hate of Marmite is genetic. We even published a scientific white paper. The result of which meant that we had made the project famous before any advertising launched.
- most creatively awarded campaign in the world (2018)
- 14% in 6 weeks
- Total sales increase
- Marmite jar sales in 4 months
- Coverage across newspapers
Challenge & Insight
Sweet morning spreads were fuelling a sugar-addicted nation. Children were consuming 3 lumps of sugar every morning, contributing to rising obesity levels. We knew that Marmite is full of Vitamin B12, and incredibly low in sugar content, which meant that we had the undeniably healthier breakfast alternative.
In 2019, this meant that our challenge was clear. We had to demonstrate our purpose simply & clearly in order to address this problem.
Having delved into science for our last campaign ‘Gene Project’, it got us thinking.
Strategy & Approach
Even if you’re born a sweet-toothed hater, could you learn to love Marmite instead? The ability to turn ‘lover’ meant we could address the health benefits to a wider audience, purporting our brand purpose further.
Famously, people either ‘Love It or Hate It’, and as a savoury product, how could we convince a sweet-tooth consumer to move across to the healthier option?
What if we could change their minds lead us to our proposition:
'Can haters learn to love Marmite?'
We enlisted a real hypnotist to create a powerful hypnotic treatment capable of converting Marmite-hating sugar addicts into lovers. To get the message out, we issued a public challenge to the UK’s biggest haters using a primetime 60-second film.
We leaked a ‘taster’ version so families could ditch their own sugar habits.
But not only this, but we also planted subliminal messages in other brands’ advertising, encouraging families to swap to the healthier option, Marmite.
Learning from the ‘Marmite Gene Project’, we brought our idea into disruptive eCommerce, retail and on-shelf environments.
- 11 point increase
- amongst haters consideration (YouGov data)
- Brand awareness
- Haters signed up to the experience
- Additional households recruited
- of earned media impressions
Insight & Strategic Approach
Our next innovation came along in 2021. Chilli-flavoured Marmite was heading to shelves across the country. And not only that, it was ingeniously named Dynamite. Our challenge was to make a dynamite launch for a Dynamite product. We had a small budget we needed a campaign that didn’t just break the internet. We wanted to blow it up entirely.
Whether we’re touting Marmite brussel sprouts or Marmite deodorant, our lovers never let us down with their dutiful indulgence of our creations. With fans as dedicated as these, we got started with more innovation, more variety and crucially, giving them more to love.
The creative concept dialled up the drama with a simple thought:
Dynamite’s spicy kick is so explosive it’s blown its lid off. In fact, this was a product so explosive it came with a warning:
‘Love it, hate it, be careful with it.’
Using special-build OOH, we brought the idea to life on the streets. Passers-by were stunned by a jar of exploded Marmite Dynamite with the lid blown off; one jammed in a car windscreen, another lodged in a tree and a third balancing precariously on a building. This led to a stand-out, unique campaign, pushing our humorous brand into a space that was loud, ‘out there’ and impossible to ignore.
- 5X Sales
- increase on previous limited edition products
- In earned media
Challenge & Insight
In 2022 we had a new, special edition product on its way to shelves & kitchen tables across the country. It was time to get the lovers of the nation’s favourite breakfast spread to try Marmite Truffle.
We needed to drive mass brand awareness and talkability of the brand’s poshest ever spread across earned media and social verticals.
We combined our luxury product with quintessentially British culture to capitalise on the idea of what 'posh' really means in Britain.
We knew that Marmite Truffle wasn't just any flavour, it was a luxury flavour. It was time to find a way to make Marmite Truffle the ultimate status symbol that everyone desired.
But we needed to do it with Marmite’s British tone and humour.
We knew that; posh was at the centre of our campaign. So we launched the poshest Marmite campaign to ever grace the streets of London, using our proposition,
‘One either loves it or hates it.’
Marmite - You Either Love it or Hate it
A look back on the past decade of culture-defining advertising.