Marmite animal welfare ad: how to tackle occasionally used products

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We all have such products in our house – those which are used rarely. Usually such products come into use only for a specific occasion (e.g antiseptic creams, adhesive bandages) or are bought but rarely used because of sheer inertia (e.g. honey in most households).  Brands like Burnol, BandAid and Dettol come to mind in reference to the first category. Nestle Milkmaid, Dabur Honey (and other brands in that category) come to mind in the latter group. Obviously this behaviour has a direct impact on the brand’s business.

Marketers have attempted to change this behaviour with several initiatives in the past. Consumers were urged to use Dettol everyday by putting a drop on bath water, baby nappies etc. Honey brands have urged consumers to use honey more by treating it like a sugar substitute. Jam manufacturers sought a place in the school tiffin box everyday.

Such campaigns have had varying degree of success. I guess the success depends on how natural the fit (in terms of increasing usage occasions) was: using Dettol in a bucket of bath water was fine (as it assuaged your concern for germs) but having a dosa with jam seems incongruous. As part of such campaigns is advertising which has largely been in the educative mode, i.e. showing consumers how to use the product more often. The ads have largely been straightforward and bordering on bland.
The famous exception to this rule is perhaps the ‘Got Milk?’ campaign of yore which urged US consumers to associate milk with snack consumption (a common phenomenon there) and saw great results.

In this context comes a new British ad for Marmite. I guess Marmite too suffers from the ‘occasional use’ syndrome. This year alone, over 1 in 10 Brits admit they haven’t opened their jar in over three months. And how do Marmite and their agency (DDB) tackle this? With a big dose of British humour.

There’s even a website, End Marmite Neglect where you can help by donating a tweet, post or profile picture.

Strangely, animal welfare campaigners have raked up a controversy as they found the ad objectionable (or was that part of the PR campaign too?). I don’t know what’s not to like in the Marmite ad. I thought it tacked the central issue of neglect in a humourous and non-preachy way and is likely to get the desired result. What say?

photo credit: dontcallmeikke via photopin cc


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