Renowned for its unconventional advertising, Unilever’s Marmite brand is looking to create appeal with a new tongue in cheek promotion. While the campaign will undoubtedly resonate with some consumers, it is unlikely to attract many people that are not already fans of the product.

The latest campaign for Marmite features an on-pack contest called Xtreme Sandwiching, a promotion that forms part of a £3m (US$5.0m) marketing effort. Participants of the promotion are asked to photograph themselves whilst eating a Marmite sandwich in an unusual location. The winner will receive a holiday and a camera.

The promotion is said to have taken inspiration from extreme ironing, an activity in which in participants simulate ironing in dangerous locations. By tapping into what is widely considered a cult activity, Unilever is looking to cement the cult status of its ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ spread. There is also some clear logic behind the madness. The competition is tied in with Marmite fans’ tendency to take Marmite away on holiday and could therefore potentially increase the number of product user occasions.

The campaign is unlikely to appeal beyond the product’s core loyalists and those who share a passion for the growing phenomenon of extreme ironing. However, Unilever has never been overly concerned about alienating consumers from its Marmite brand.

Earlier this year the Independent Television Commission investigated its controversial lifeguard TV ads, which featured a lifeguard who had just eaten a Marmite sandwich giving the kiss of life to a drowning man. Yet the kiss is prolonged given the man’s liking of the taste and this led to many complaints about the ad’s homosexual overtones.

A cult brand such as Marmite knows its target market and is not worried about alienating certain consumers in its marketing messages. The Marmite brand has always been upfront and honest about realising some people dislike the taste of the product. This latest tongue in cheek promotion will only add to the immense character and subsequent consumer appeal that the brand has developed over the years. And when brands develop cult status, they are usually here to stay.

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