You either hate it… or you hate it

The Grocer is reporting that Marmite has been toppled from its crowning perch as Britain’s favourite spread. Rowse Honey is the new queen of the castle. This makes me think Marmite’s advertising has worked.

It’s well established that only certain people like bitter tastes. I’m one of them – Negroni? – make it a double! When I took over as brand manager for Cadbury’s Roses I fought an ultimately unsuccessful rearguard action to stop the bean counters chopping the expensive marzipan unit from the assortment. (In research, 17% of consumers said they bought Roses not Quality Street because of the marzipan. Argh!)

The trouble is most kids don’t like Marmite. Indeed, most kids don’t like loads of things not packed with sugar – until they’ve been tricked into trying them. (As a toddler and Popeye fan I would apparently eat anything that I was told was spinach. Bitter, you see.)

Intuitively, I’ve never been comfortable with Marmite’s bi-polar communication strategy. My formative years were in sales, and if my boss was with me there was no bigger hairdryer treatment than when I’d mentioned one of our company’s deficiencies during a sales presentation. ‘Leave that to the competition, numskull.’

I’m concerned that Marmite has now given a generation of kids permission to reject the product out of hand. What recourse does a parent have when the television ad is admitting people hate it? And meanwhile there’s honey in the pantry!