Unilever’s Marmite has launched its biggest marketing campaign to-date, challenging consumers to ‘Just Try It’ with £3m TV online and social media ads.
The move follows research that found there are genetic reasons why some people love Marmite and others hate it.
The campaign is PR-led, by agency W Communications, and centres around new research that Marmite commissioned from one of the UK’s leading genetic testing centers, DNAFit. Scientists there conducted a clinical trial among 260 adults, and found out that not only do more people love it than hate it (which is handy for the brand) but that “each of us is born with a tendency to be either a ‘lover’ or a ‘hater.'”
The brand is offering Marmite DNA kits so people can discover if they were born to love or hate the brand, while a facial recognition app will measure their facial expressions as they taste the product.
Philippa Atkinson, Marmite brand manager at Unilever UK, says: “We want to encourage families across Britain to try Marmite with our biggest-ever campaign. For the first time, we are able to understand the role of genetics in influencing consumer taste preference for Marmite and retailers can really benefit from the greater sales opportunities presented with The Marmite Gene Project.”
Taste Face app
The food spread brand has worked with AnalogFolk to develop a bespoke web app named TasteFace.
The digital experience uses Microsoft’s Emotion API facial recognition technology to tell if the Marmite eater pulls a face of enjoyment or disgust while ingesting the yeast-based paste.
The app will categorise the user as a lover or a hater and reveals the percentage of the emotion, with the biggest fans rated 100% and those on the verge of vomiting at 0%.
At the end of the experience, an edited video of the user’s taste test is converted into a gif that can be shared with a variety of relevant lover or hater overlays.
Miguel Alvarez, director of technology services at AnalogFolk, explained how the technology works.
“It works by recording a very short video when the person is trying out Marmite through the camera,” he said. “We chop that video into pieces that we analyse and look for the expressions that happen at very key moment through the journey when you’re trying something out. By analysing the facial expression of eight key areas, we combine those values to give an overall view of whether you liked it or disliked it.”
The brand hopes TasteFace, which can also produce the amalgamated love/hate result for a group of people, will encourage consumers who previously labeled themselves as haters to reconsider the spread.
Philippa Atkinson, brand manager for Marmite at Unilever, said: “With TasteFace we are encouraging the British public to try Marmite, butter their toast and discover their fate – are they lovers or haters? We know that some people have written off Marmite in the past, so innovations like TasteFace, while fun, also serve a real purpose, by encouraging people to give it a go.”