With a unique place in British hearts and in traditional family life, MARMITE yeast extract has brand values a marketing chief would die for. More a comforting friend than a mere spread, MARMITE is a must stock product that's trusted and nutritious. But it is also versatile, value for money and vegetarian.
MARMITE spread, whether loved or hated, has been a part of our lives for almost 100 years. It is for this reason that MARMITE has been chosen by the British public to appear in the National Identity Zone at the Millennium Dome in Greenwich for the first 12 months of the 21st century.
The key audience when promoting MARMITE has traditionally been mothers and pregnant women, but over time has become increasingly focused on young 20-34 year olds.
In the bold manner of Stella Artois' Reassuringly Expensive campaign, MARMITE is a brand with so powerful a standing that it can be promoted on the basis of people disliking it.
More than 4m [pounds sterling] was pumped into marketing support this year. That made it the most heavily supported ambient spread on the market.
The latest TV advertising campaign targets young single adults and features a glamorous young woman who takes a new boyfriend back to her flat for coffee. Unbeknown to the viewer, while she is in the kitchen, she sneaks a bite out of a bagel smothered with MARMITE yeast extract.
The next moment, during a passionate embrace on the sofa, the boyfriend tastes MARMITE on her lips and recoils in horror as the ad closes with a shot of the bagel and the line: `You either love it or hate it.'
The `You either love it or hate it' message has been carried through a supporting poster and postcard campaign amplifying the `MY MATE MARMITE/I HATE MARMITE' slogan. A six sheet poster campaign on 3,500 sites in England and Wales features the classic Love is ... characters.
Trendy bars and clubs in London and the south east have been blitzed in a postcard campaign of three Love it/Hate it cards designed for twenty- and thirty somethings to send to their favourite/least favourite people.
It was all rather less emotionally highly strung earlier in the century. Early promotions of MARMITE spread earnestly claimed that "a small quantity added to the daily diet will ensure that you and your family are taking sufficient vitamin B to keep nerves, brain and digestion in proper working order".
It was good stuff -- officially. The first major advertising campaign for MARMITE was in the 1930s and focused on the use of characters whose faces incorporated the word `good'. It was used on giant hoarding posters, display cards for shops, brochures, recipe books and even paper bags.
It was back in 1680 that the use of spent brewer's yeast as a food source was first discovered. However, it wasn't until the 19th century that a German chemist, Herr Liebig, found this yeast could be made into a concentrated food product and MARMITE yeast extract was invented.
After many unsuccessful attempts by various people, it wasn't until 1902 that it first began to be manufactured for commercial purposes by The Marmite Food Company Ltd. The company was committed to producing a perfected form of yeast extract for poplar consumption and began production of MARMITE yeast extract at a disused malthouse in Burton-on-Trent.
However, it was discovered the yeast being used from British beer did not lend itself to the same treatment of continental yeast. The company bought new machinery and a series of changes to the manufacturing process were implemented before a satisfactory yeast extract product was ready to market.
It took time to convince the British public about MARMITE spread with its distinctive taste, but in 1912 the discovery of vitamins helped boost its popularity. It was soon realised that MARMITE provided a good source of five B vitamins, in particular B12.
It has since been discovered that MARMITE is a good source of riboflavin and niacin as well as being an excellent source of folic acid which helps prevent spina bifida in unborn babies.
The familiar shape of the jars adds to the distinctive taste of MARMITE and has had few modifications over the years. The original simmering stew pot remains on the label to this day. MARMITE spread was initially sold in earthenware jars. This was changed in the late 1920s to glass jars with metal lids. The lids were then upgraded to plastic in 1984.
During the First World War, MARMITE was dispatched to troops serving overseas to help combat the outbreak of beri-beri and other diseases. Its consumption also increased within hospitals, schools and institutions. Since that time MARMITE has been supplied to British troops in the Second World War, the Falklands War, the Gulf War and more recently in Bosnia.
Also on an overseas note, it is estimated that around 11% of British holidaymakers, young and old, will take MARMITE away with them if holidaying abroad.
Back at home, the increasing tendency towards packed lunches has led to a growth in popularity of the sandwich. With sales in the region of 30m [pounds sterling] [Nielsen MAT, August 1999 - total spreads market), MARMITE is one of the most popular savoury spreads, with around 65% of MARMITE consumed at breakfast.
The British public has a real `love/hate' relationship with MARMITE spread, and it wasn't until the late 1980s that this feeling towards MARMITE was used to sell the product in a new advertising campaign using the now famous `My Mate MARMITE' slogan.
This campaign proved so successful that more than a decade later it is still being used. In 1996 the Love/Hate advertising theme was introduced using the already successful `MY MATE MARMITE' slogan together with `I HATE MARMITE'. This campaign proved even more successful, with sales of MARMITE increasing by 16% [ACNielsen, value] after the first initial four week burst. MARMITE and `MY MATE MARMITE/I HATE MARMITE' are registered trademarks of Bestfoods.