Friday, August 09, 2013

Marmite advert faces ban as animal welfare campaigners either love it or hate it

Marmite is one of a family of yeast-based sandwich spreads much loved in Britain, Australia and other Commonwealth nations. I have three different versions of it in my fridge at the moment:  N.Z. Marmite, Vegemite and Ozemite. It is however something of an acquired taste and Americans almost universally loathe it. 

The makers of Marmite have stayed true to their "love or hate it" ethos after broadcasting an advert parodying the work of animal welfare campaigners, which received hundreds of complaints.

The advert features Marmite welfare officers visiting the homes of people who are neglecting their jars of yeasty spread and rescuing them from a life of abandonment.

One officer gets particularly choked up after finding a "baby Marmite jar" lingering at the back of the kitchen cupboard virtual unused.  "I just hadn't seen one that small," the officer says to his sympathetic colleague.

The tongue-in-cheek ad provoked 250 complaints to The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after it made its debut broadcast on Monday.

People took to social networking sites to complain, one Facebook user said:  "Your new advert is very bad taste. Animal abuse is no laughing matter and think it's very wrong to jokingly use such a subject as a marketing scheme to increase your sales."

However animal agencies, such as PETA have welcomed the campaign saying it reminds viewers of the hard job that animal welfare officers do.


People tend to be strongly partisan in the spread they prefer.  Australians will usually have only Vegemite and Kiwis will normally have only their version of Marmite. 

When the Christchurch earthquake knocked out the N.Z. Marmite factory, there was national panic, with even the Prime Minister getting involved and urging calm.  You would think that imports of British Marmite could fill the gap but no way!  Kiwis like THEIR Marmite and that is that.

There was at one time talk of Denmark banning Marmite.  In response a British expat living there said he would not know what to put on his toast in the morning.

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