Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Why good branding is like Marmite..

A pyramid of filth. Via chiri_dr.

Boy, I'm really pushing this whole 'advertising analogy' thing this week. Don't quite know why, but there we are.

From bands to Marmite in one post to another. No, I've not been drinking lead paint (though it is delicious - but deadly).

You see, I hate Marmite. Absolutely despise it. I'm not a fussy eater, but Marmite is Beezlebub's own fecal matter. Not pleasant for anyone concerned. (Nor is Parmesan cheese, but that's a post for another day).

But so many people love the stuff. And it occurred to me - at least I have some reaction to the brand. And the fact it's so violent (in my case) against it, it becomes a conversation with others. Far better to be talked about than not at all. Everyone has some stance.

So compare that with the last parade of ads you saw in your recent TV watching time. Remember any of them? And no, no answering the question like an 'ad person' (who'd typically say 'yes, CHI's work is great....[or] I like what Fallon have done with X').

I sincerely doubt people recall that many, much less having a strong opinion like I/others have about Marmite.

Now let's bring in another figure...

Everyone who works in advertising has an opinion about this gentleman. Via Analogue Logic.

Yes, Mr Barry Scott of Cillit Bang.

If you've not seen the delights of his advertising, don't worry! It's below:

It's not my favourite ad, put it that way. But boy, is it effective (warning, opens a pdf). Reckitt Benckiser are laughing all the way to the bank.

And people have been playing with the brand to a great degree. It's not always popular, has been found out a few times, and there have been some underhand marketing exploits, as the 'popular' link explains.

Yes, it's massively derided. But I know about it, and I'm willing to bet 75% of the people who read my little missive today will know about it.

Basically, the end of this little analogy is just to say - agencies (be you digital, ATL or integrated) make your ads stand out and get people talking. Cutting through the dross is half the battle. I'm not sure if everyone liked the Tango ads at the time, but damn, weren't they spectacular in terms of sales/word of mouth. And so are the Cillit Bang ads, I have to say.

And finally - never buy Marmite. People don't like you when you do.


lauren said...

sorry will, i see where you're coming from but here's a rant warning:

i'm sick of the whole notion of 'no such thing as bad publicity' in advertising/branding, like knowledge or 'recognition' is the only thing worthwhile in a brand or experience. fuck that.

not only does it reflect a completely shallow cult-of-personality society, where being famous for being famous is lauded, but hating something does not actually do anything to make one's life better.

the fact of the matter is that being hated as a brand, or product is, actually, bad for business, and doesn't pay the bills (trust me, i'm hated and living off a credit card), because word of mouth works both ways. it may work initially, get people's attention, but more and more, we need something substantial to keep that attention going.

you may hate marmite, but the reason it's a successful brand is because loads of people like it, and it works (ie. appeals to people's taste), not because it makes people vomit.

Will said...

Lauren, I fear you may have misinterpreted m' post.

Considering I loathe Marmite, it's easy to understand.

What I was trying to say (in a cloudy way), was precisely what you said in the final paragraph.

Get your advertising/communications to provoke a reaction. Even if that reaction is initially bad, look at what it's got people to do for say Cillit Bang - it certainly hasn't stopped Marmite.

People then try the product/know it/like it for more than a first impression.

Being infamous, as you say, is fine to a point - but you've got to be able to do something as well.

That 'being able to do something' point wasn't properly expressed in the post, so you are quite right to pull me up on it.

Rob (ad pit) said...

The thing that people forget, is that the Tango, Pot Noodle, Marmite, Cillit Bang campaigns were not quick publicity seeing shock value ads. They were well planned and thought out ads that worked well.

I mean, "The slag of all snacks" was pure genius because whilst being slightly shocking, it was an undeniable product truth.

Ads that followed were just there for publicity and so on.

lauren said...

hmmm.. beast is soothed, just for now.

Will said...

Wonderful thing, this 'moderation through comments' lark. ;)

Tell the truth, but get people to talk about it. Be it good or bad.

Rob Mortimer said...


Good post though Will.
The angrier side of you is producing some great stuff...

Maybe we should piss you off more!

Will said...

Ah, I'm not a grumpy person.

But some silly things make me a little cross.

That said, I'm damn happy at the moment - my lost Moleskine has been posted back to me! So I think I'll be happy for a little while yet.

Rob @ Cynic said...

I like this post Will ... I like it a lot ... but whether I want to be the 'bassist' in the band is still open to debate - the songwriter maybe, but the bassist?

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