MARMITE - “You either quite like it or you unlike it” : Jack Cullen exposes the myth behind this megaton beefed-up marketing shocker.

People go out of their way to say “Ooh it’s like Marmite isn’t it, you either...” and the conversation instantly falls into a coma of cliché and disinterest. It’s a social invasion.

I’m fed up with Marmite’s infamous testament – you either love Marmite or you hate Marmite. It’s a marketing campaign so strong, so meaty, so pungent and so influential on soft-minded citizens it makes Dr. Goebbels’ work for the Nazis look farcically ineffectual by comparison.

Because of course the plain bread truth is, hardly any of us are mad enough to love or hate Marmite. If Marmite was so enamoured then it would appear on menus, its devoted lovers would carry pots of it around with them, spreading away at plastic tables on trains, ripping their Prêt a Manger meatball ravus apart to load them up with a generous slap of beef extract. And as for hating it, does anybody have such an empty life that they can afford the time to actively despise a brand-name bread spread? Like, seriously.

Most of us, in fact, fall into the following three categories when it comes to Marmite:

1. You quite like it
You’ve had a fun night out, you’re sitting in the kitchen chatting to your flatmate about that boy, the kettle’s on, ooh – why not have a bit of toast, with Marmite perhaps?

2. You’re not that fussed really
You’re on a speed awareness course, its lunch break and the biddies have put on a buffet. Why is Marmite one of the sandwiches on display? A bit odd you think. Oh well, you pile one up anyway alongside the tasteless wafer thin turkey and the kill-yourself-now egg cress mess.

3. You hardly ever eat it and as a healthy human have no opinion on it
Just like you hardly ever eat Primella cheese and have no opinion on it. Just like you hardly ever eat Ambrosia custard and have no opinion on it. Just like approximately 85,000 other products in your local supermarket that you hardly ever eat and have no opinion of.

So why get all worked up about Marmite’s marketing lies? Because the phraseology of it has secured itself a place in household language.

Only today MSN, one of the world’s most influential online authorities, released an article called ‘Marmite Musicians’. The article lists pop acts like Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, The Spice Girls and Cliff Richard as ‘Marmite’ artists because you… you guessed it… either HATE them, or you LOVE them. No Msn. No. We like Lady Gaga, we no longer care about The Spice Girls, we are scared by Cliff Richard and unimpressed by his suppressed sexuality, and as for Justin Bieber, he’s just some stupid pop kid. No loving. No hating. See?

What’s even worse is MSN know this themselves. On Justin Bieber they write “So it's not so much love him or hate him, as love him and don't have a clue who he is. At the moment, he's still pretty much a North American-megastar, combining teen heartthrob with loose R&B stylings. So there's a lot to hate. Or, if you're a teen girl from Ontario, a lot to love.” So basically, he’s not even what they call a ‘Marmite’ artist.

This is what irritates me. People go out of their way to say “Ooh it’s like Marmite isn’t it, you either...” and the conversation instantly falls into a coma of cliché and disinterest. It’s a social invasion. Students in new-wave universities like The University of Basingstoke are probably discussing this perplexingly successful Marmite campaign right now as a case study in their Contemporary Beef Extract Marketing Do-Dah Management degrees.

So I paid a visit to the route of all this evil:

Even in Google search, Marmite’s website proudly brandishes its indestructible campaign in your face - “Marmite – Love It Or Hate It”. The site instantly forks its traffic, forcing you to choose between two paths, Marmite is Perfect or Marmite is Horrid. I click on Horrid and am taken through to a hate site hosted by Marmite themselves. Words are instantly put in my mouth – “Eat Marmite? You'd rather rip the wings off live chickens. You'd rather be stripped naked in public. You'd rather swallow rat's tails and snail shells... Enough already! We get the picture. And yes, you're in the right place...” (And yes, Marmite’s in-house writer Francesca Simon has an incorrect use of apostrophe, not I)

In the empire of Marmite.Com there’s merchandise, you can download a free audio book, they even have downloadable screensavers in the fan club area. There’s also a Marmite cook book written by Paul Harley. Thanks Paul.

My friend in media Rob Heath agrees with me on this: “The marmite campaign is a Standard false dichotomy. Like the USA's 'You're either with us or against us' regarding their War on Terror. It's quite possible to be neither. Strong arm tactics of the most insidious variety.” An academic friend Benjamin O’ Brien agrees too, telling the Jack of Hearts exclusively: “It’s a modern obsession with polemic. You didn't really have to look much further than the 'Conservatives eat your babies'/'LibDems want to take all your money' dichotomy for a more problematic application.”

Today we live in an era of liking though, ruled by his His Royal Highness Mark Zuckerburg the First. Facebook states and dictates that we must like things. Marmite shouldn’t be an exception. I want to see a campaign that says Marmite – you either like it or you unlike it.

Further reading:

Visit Marmite’s website It’s quite nice I suppose.

Buy the Marmite cook book here. You might quite like it, or maybe you’re not that fussed.

Read Jack's opinions on Justin Bieber and his sexuality here

Above: The Marmite Cook Book. Below: Part of Marmite's Perfectly Horrid campaign


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