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Marmite ‘Marmite gene project’ / Adam & Eve/DDB

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Marmite has long been marketed under the slogan ‘Love it or Hate it’. The unique-tasting yeast extract breakfast spread has a history of dividing the nation, with some unable to get enough of the distinctive sticky brown paste, whilst others wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole. You’re either a lover or hater, and nobody seems to fall into any category in between. But why is the product so divisive? Marmite-owner Unilever turned to science for the answer and found that we are all born predisposed to either like the spread or not.


Marmite commissioned a study to be undertaken by DNAFit, a genetic testing centre, which, after taking cheek swabs from 260 adults who had recently consumed Marmite, uncovered 15 genetic markers linked to people’s preference for the paste. Our liking (or not) for Marmite is therefore down to our genes.

The findings of The Marmite Gene Project sparked the basis for a £3m campaign push for the brand. Consumers are able to get their hands on their own gene testing kits, the results of which will determine whether they are genetically a lover or hater of the spread. This can also be determined by a facial recognition app called TasteFace, created by AnalogFolk, which can analyse the user’s facial expression after tasting Marmite and use a bespoke algorithm to conclude whether they are more likely to be a Marmite lover or hater. App users can then share their results on social media in the form of a customisable gif.


Highlighting the initiative is a 90-second TV ad by Adam&EveDDB. The humorous spot, which debuted on Saturday evening during ITV’s The X Factor, sees various people revealing the results of whether they are a Marmite lover or hater. The ad light-heartedly documents the kind of disruption the results could make to family life, with family members shocked that they have been living under the same roof as a secret hater or finding out that they have been deceived their whole life thinking they were a hater yet their results reveal that they were, in fact, born a lover. The TV spot was directed by James Rouse through Outsider.



The Marmite Gene Project is certainly a unique campaign which will draw in consumers with its entertaining TV ad as well as its interactive element; being able to actively get involved and find out their true destiny as a lover or hater. This interactive element will instil a more tactile relationship with the brand, tying them more emotionally, and thus more loyally, to it.


Marmite only has customers to gain through the initiative. Those existing haters whose test results confirm their self-asserted status will continue to decline a purchase of the spread, so no loss there. Yet those haters who find out they are born lovers may be more inclined to retry the product and, perhaps by tasting it again with a new mindset, become a converted lover and new customer. Meanwhile, the lovers who always knew they were can celebrate their results with a slice of Marmite-covered toast and a new-found affinity with the brand, ready to stock up on their next jar with more certainty than ever.