Marmite serves up 'tips for first-timers' in provocative new campaign to entice young adults

Is there anything more divisive than Marmite? It's a product you either love or absolutely detest, but according to new YouGov research, 43 per cent of youngsters in the UK have never even tried it. Now the savoury food spread has launched a campaign to show them how to eat it.

Crafted by adam&eveDDB for Marmite, the spot called 'First Timers' targets people aged between 18 and 24 years old and urges them to try the spread.

Brilliantly directed by the acclaimed Guy Shelmerdine, the sixty second hero film features two puppets who try out putting Marmite on a slice of toast for the first time, following the repetitive mantra to music, "stroke that, push that and lick that" via a series of suggestive scenarios. The film is set to a specially recorded music track by US music producer, Giraffage, who remixed his electro track, Workout. The end line is "Love it. Hate it. Get it on".

The campaign has been launched to coincide with Freshers Week, a time when new students are known for experimentation. Building on its main ad, Marmite is giving thousands of sampling kits to "first-timers" at universities across the UK this month, alongside launching a TikTok challenge called 'Are you a Marmite First-Timer?' and a quiz on Tinder called 'Sticky Situations' asking participants to "love" or "hate" certain behaviour in a potential partner, in humorous and saucy language.

Rather wonderfully, our divided relationship with the yeast extract spread has been warmly embraced by Marmite in its marketing efforts for some time. It knows only too well that it's something we either love or hate. "We're a brand which is embedded in UK culture, and so many of us have grown up with it," says Laura Iliffe from Marmite. "We pride ourselves on sparking debate and strong opinions and most consumers are either lovers or haters. However, when we saw the number of young adults who had never even tried it – we knew we had to do something to dare them to take the plunge and try our special spread. This campaign represents a step-change in the way we advertise Marmite – with a clear focus on driving trial and penetration. We want to recruit our next generation of lovers, and show young adults how to approach their first-time with Marmite."

But who to demonstrate Marmite to people who've never tried it? Ben Tollett at adam&eveDDB said: "The UK has a great tradition of comedy double acts: French and Saunders, Reeves and Mortimer, Mel and Sue, Mitchell and Webb. Unfortunately they all declined the auditions, so we were stuck with a pair of filthy-minded puppets."

Those puppets were lovingly created by Puppets Magic Studio with its usual comic approach. "They had to be cool, funny and appealing to the target audience: Gen Z," explains Daniel Byrne, creative director and founder of the company. It began with several rounds of 2D sketches to test what might work for the concept. "Through much experimentaion we arrived at two complimentary designs," says Daniel. "As part of the design process, we also wanted to choose interesting materials for the puppets to be made from. We selected a grey knit fabric and a textured cream teddy fur. The eyes were simple black beads. Each character had their own set of accessories and jewellery – including a hand stitched heart tattoo."

The campaign also includes Spotify and banner ads, with one Spotify ad featuring a remixed version of the Giraffage track used in the film, and another using ASMR to get potential Marmite customers in the mood.

Still to come is a PR campaign, led by W Communications, which will invite university students to "pop their Marmite cherry". The experience will see first-timers taken through a series of specially curated sensory experiments, all designed to help them discover whether they are a lover or a hater. Each experiment will play out the suggestive scenarios seen in the hero film.


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