7 December 2012 - 6:50am | posted by | 3 comments

Marmite's Oxford St Christmas lights are "a decade (or two) too late" says Arena Media creative director Justin Gibbons, adVENT Day: 7

Behind the windows of this very special Drum adVENT Calendar you’ll find a different member of the creative industry venting their feelings on a Christmas ad, or ads, they love or loathe. Today it’s creative director at Arena Media, Justin Gibbons.

Marmite’s Christmas Lights are a Case of Love and HateMarmite’s Christmas Lights are a Case of Love and Hate

I have to admit that my feelings about the Marmite Christmas campaign run along the same lines as their iconic brand positioning: I love bits of it, but I hate other bits.

Obviously the brand doesn't fit with Christmas - I have got over that.

But beyond being sardonic and self-deprecating, is there really any point to tying the brand so closely to the biggest Christmas lights in Europe? And on the one shopping street in the country that you can't actually buy Marmite on? Post-modernism died out with Tango and this campaign feels a decade (or two) too late. And at least there was a Disney Store nearby when Disney took up the festive mantle.

Something feels slightly amiss here - perhaps they’ve been putting more than gold specs in the Marmite jars at HQ...

Having said that, there is a redeeming feature to this campaign - the bit that stops me being just a hater - and that’s its execution.

Robbie Williams - the quintessential cheeky chap who doesn’t (and can’t) take himself too seriously - is the perfect ambassador for the whimsical brand. And likewise, the socialised elements really show us that Facebook can - and should - be more than just a bolt-on. Meanwhile the bus stop on Oxford Street that allows people to control the lights themselves is a stroke of pure genius.

The interactive side of the Marmite Christmas lights shows us the brand’s sense of fun at its best - even if the exercise doesn’t really make any sense.

Justin Gibbons is the creative director at Arena Media. Justin joined Arena in 2011 to integrate Behavioural Economics into the Arena Media planning process. As creative director Justin takes responsibility for the agency’s consumer insight and media creativity. Prior to joining Arena Justin founded Work and was once a soft metal DJ.

Fold 7's creative director Ryan Newey deemed Waitrose's Christmas ad starring Delia Smith and Heston Blumenthal as "painfully transparent" in Thursday 6 December's adVENT.


7 Dec 2012 - 11:32
Road-runner's picture

I think sticking your brand in front of 40 millions shoppers and having a fun interative element as well as the social media element is a pretty good reason reason for the activity. Following your logic.....only advertise where your product is on sale....stop pitch side advertising, stop product placement the list goes on, cheer up you old humbug..its Christmas!

7 Dec 2012 - 17:04
coral10578's picture

I'm pretty sure you can buy Marmite at Selfridges, and probably even M&S. Just saying

11 Dec 2012 - 09:07
benfarrell's picture

I don't think the timing is off, I think it's the actual execution. It's a good idea (how many other cities are there in the world where you could see Christmas lights being sponsored by a yeast spread?) but I just think the lights themselves are a bit of a let down (the video screen aside).


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