Interfere with the British love of pets at your peril !

Britons love their pets. Fact. End of story.

So it is a brave brand that brings its marketing pounds to bear in a way that challenges this.

Marmite have just committed this error.  It has potentially damaged their brand and has cost them money.  More of that later.

Can I prove that Britons love their pets?  You bet I can … carried out some research this year that suggests it is increasing:

  • 2 million of the UK pet owners would take their partner to court for custody of the pet in the event of a divorce if that became necessary
  • 1 in 10 said they would dump their partner if they didn’t get on with their pet
  • 30% of pet owners won’t even consider dating someone who was not an animal lover and 8% of all people would reject a potential partner if they were not an animal lover
  • 1 in 10 of the partners of pet owners think their partner loves their pet more than them

And trust me when I say that this is the tip of the statistical iceberg – I could have quoted many more from the same research!

According to the Oxford University Press the UK Pet population is around 27 million pets.  Assuming a total population of about 61m that’s 44%, that’s a lot!

In popularity terms it’s about equal at the top of the pecking order – 7.3m dogs and 7.2m cats.  I’m a dog person.

Paul O’Grady’s lovely prime time show about Battersea Dogs home won the BAFTA this year for best factual entertainment programme.  The sponsorship by Pedigree Chum is well extended into Social Media by the way … Nice twitter interventions especially.  Each episode generally only beaten by the soaps with 4.75 million viewers.

I rest my case … we Britons love our pets, cats and dogs especially.

So knowing all of this, especially the latter comments about the Paul O’Grady show, Marmite decided to run an ad campaign spoofing the very worthy and important work that animal rescue teams conduct every day.

The Ad itself is well filmed but it just makes you cringe inside as a Marketer when you try to resolve the funny antics of love Marmite or loathe it vs the British love affair with dogs and cats, especially, and all other animals.

I think this is a classic example of insight not being properly used.  The Ad agency probably used words like “edgy”, “brave” and “watercooler ad”.  My sense is that in this case the adverse publicity and the large number of ASA complaints – more than 400 so far – mean it has failed to position the Marmite brand as any of those things.  It even aired during Coronation street so topped and tailed by the lovely Meerkat sponsorship bumpers, insensitivity heaped on top of poor media consideration.  Not great use of insight or budget. My sense is that the Great British Public will see Marmite as insensitive.

I will let you judge the ad itself, I am not here to critique that, more to point out the danger of not getting the insight right.

Marmite have now made an £18,000 donation to the RSPCA. The question of all publicity being good publicity once more raises its head – but that looks like fire fighting to me.

Irrespective of whether you like the ad, it belittles important work to sell a product and that doesn’t sit comfortably with me.

Here is the ad :-

As an aside I watched the film Chocolat on TV again recently, a beautifully shot film, and it made me realise where , potentially, the insight came from in art direction terms for the ad below.  This is how the British see their pets, loyal and loving … interfere with that at your peril I say, at the very least, given this evidence it might cost you £18,000 !


23 Aug 2013

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2 thoughts on “Interfere with the British love of pets at your peril !

  1. Fran says:

    Ha ha very nice juxtaposition of Cesar and yup I got a wee lump in my throat. The marmite ad is a bit crass, plus the use of jack booted RSPCA type officials is distasteful given the current political position of the charity with regard to steaming in with the police in tow to charge old, impoverished seniors with old and equally impoverished pets. I liked the critique.

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