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a sticky situation – is this Marmite ad offensive?

7 August 2013

The advert, first aired during Coronation Street last night, depicts Marmite jars being “rescued” from the backs of cupboards, in a parody of animal welfare patrol action.

The ASA has already received 250 complaints, including that the ad is ‘deeply offensive’ as it ‘trivializes’ the work of both animal welfare charities and child protection agencies. However the animal rights campaigning group PETA have welcomed the ad, since it may raise awareness of real animal welfare issues.

Whether or not the complaints are upheld, and the ad campaign therefore withdrawn, remains to be seen.

Unilever have said they never intended to cause offence. This shows the importance of carefully considering if an advert complies with the ASA’s code – whether or not an advert will attract complaints and/or adverse publicity is not always immediately obvious.

The campaign certainly provides a great example of how divisive advertising generates publicity – which you might say exemplifies Marmite’s ‘love it or hate it’ brand value!

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