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'Love it or Hate it?' Where genetics meet brand DNA

Craft (Film Craft)
Silver Lion: Marmite Gene Project ‘Gene Project 90’

Agency: adam&eveDDB, London
Client: Unilever

Sticky brown sludge on your toast anyone? No. Then you're a Marmite hater. Yes, it’s yeasty brown goodness? Then you're probably both a Brit and genetically inclined to love Marmite. At least that's what UK creative agency adam&eveDDB and global FMCG giant Unilever would have you believe, with their campaign mixing science, silliness, family breakdown and a distinctive spread.

This is a campaign that started with a piece of genuine scientific research (no, really). It found that Marmite-loving adults have 15 genetic markers that distinguish them from 'haters'.

adam&eveDDB and Unilever leapt at the opportunity, launching a £3m ($4m) multi-platform ‘Marmite Gene Project’ campaign, creating gene testing kits that consumers could get their hands on and a TasteFace app (created by AnalogFolk) that could tell a lover or a hater just by photographing their face.

But the creative highlight of the campaign is a 90-second TV commercial that perfectly juggles domestic dysfunction, irrelevance and silliness. One of the film’s scenes features a pregnant mom opening a letter. "Please find enclosed the results of your family's first Marmite gene tests," she reads out, as her husband sits cringing. "What does it say?" he asks. "You're a Marmite hater," she says, with disgust.

Another scene shows a boy apparently about to come out as gay to his dad. "I'm a Marmite lover," he says as his dad looks on disapprovingly. The on-screen action soon descends into chaos, with the families arguing, or not in a minority of instances. 

But for all its tantrums, the ad never comes over as insensitive or even jarring. Just beautifully pitched drama, comedy and perfect on-brand messaging.

The campaign won two Silvers and one Bronze Cannes Craft (Film Craft) Lion, for script, casting and direction respectively.

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