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Addressing the UK Consumer in DM Copy

Date: February, 2011 --

Anyone who has been to the UK, or nearly anywhere in the Commonwealth for that matter, has been 'exposed' to Marmite. Marmite is a sticky and dark brown paste made of yeast extract and who knows what else. It has a salty and pungent flavor and is most often eaten spread on toast or crackers as a breakfast dish, or any time as a snack. In a certain respect it is somewhat the "culinary equivalent" of peanut butter. (We do acknowledge the reader may disagree with our affiliating peanut butter with the concept of the upscale word "culinary".) 

Unlike peanut butter, however, Marmite is something you either like a great deal, or loathe. The product's owner, consumer product powerhouse Unilever, turned this characteristic into the effective marketing slogan: "Love it or hate it." And everyone does. 

Why the word "marmite"? Marmite comes in a very distinctive squat roundish brown jar resembling a French 'marmit' or pot, hence the name. 

Why do we care? A direct mail campaign for a new Marmite flavored cereal bar gives us a view on both direct mail in the UK, and the British sense of humor, or humour. Unilever pushed its traditional advertising slogan for Marmite, "Love it or hate it" to the edge by sending promotional boxes to some 250,000 consumers. The boxes pretended to contain Marmite-flavored "Yeast Extract Toothpaste" with a "Fresh, Zingy Sensation". 

Inside the box was a sample cereal bar and two different coupons: cents off the new cereal bar if you loved it, and cents off Signal toothpaste, another Unilever brand, in case you hated the sample. Promotional copy reinforced the message that you could now get your morning Marmite fix mixed with cereal in a portable bar shape. 

The introduction also included interactive video booths in major train stations around the country where commuters could get a sample Marmite bar and record a video of their opinions about the product. Some 288,000 samples were given out in the booths and 4,530 videos recorded. Google reported some 60,000 conversations online regarding stretching the Marmite brand to other edibles. Some suggestions were not suitable for this family-oriented newsletter. 

So, if you have an off-the-wall idea for a direct mail campaign for your product, remember the UK consumer is known for a pretty good sense of humor, or humour. And don't forget that you still need to get the offer there, so look to Data Services to run hygiene and NCOA, for which Data Services is a full licensee, protocols before you go to print. 

And don't forget Data Services will be in London at the Technology for Marketing and Advertising Conference & Exhibition at Earls Court March 1 and 2. Call in advance to schedule a meeting at Stand A32 in the Direct Marketing Zone!