"Relax your breathing. Let your shoulders hang loose. Focus on my words when I speak. Open your mind to the possibility that Marmite is not yuck or gross. It does not make you want to hurl. You are beginning to love Marmite, it's the bees knees…"
That's the opening bit in the short film below, spoken in firm yet soothing tones by a balding Brit who looks a bit like a soccer hooligan. It's part of the yeasty food spread's campy new Marmite Mind Control campaign in the U.K., which, we're told, "centers around a 15-minute hypnotic mind control experience that uses powerful hypnotherapy techniques to turn adult Marmite haters into lovers."
The two-and-a-half-minute teaser isn't actually hypnotic, just amusingly silly. Dude drones on about how "honey is yuck and Marmite is yum," while the image of a vomiting cartoon bee flashes on screen:
The campaign urges the nation's biggest Marmite haters to answer some questions online for a chance to watch the full 15-minute hypnotic film "under strictly controlled conditions."
Will they turn into lovers of the slimy, salty stuff? The results will be revealed before year's end, but this 60-second TV spot provides a clue about how things might play out…
… and the key word there, of course, is might.
Devised by adam&eveDDB, the campaign was developed with hypnotist and bestselling author Rory Z. Fulcher.
Marmite has long traded on being an acquired taste, with past campaigns focusing on whether folks have a genetic predisposition for or against the brand. As for the Mind-Control blitz, well, to quote our highly suggestive friend, "Imagine Marmite spreading on hot crumpets. Watch it sink and melt. Exhale … Yuck is now yum. Yummy is now scrummy…"
That's British slang for "very tasty," which describes the media's response to the campaign, with U.K. outlets seemingly hypnotized into providing coverage and trumpeting the Marmite name.
Seriously though, why trade on hypnosis for Marmite?
"The last campaign—Marmite DNA—proved that some people were genetically programmed to not like Marmite," adam&eveDDB creative director Simon Vicars tells Muse. "That made us wonder if we could re-program haters. One of our friends was petrified of flying, but had overcome that fear through hypnotherapy. Straight away we wanted to know if the hate for Marmite could be overcome, too."
Vicars says a large percentage of people who claim to hate Marmite actually haven't tried it for years. "Many tried it as a kid and, decades later, still claim to be repulsed by it—such was the trauma of their first experience," he says. "So, we didn't need to drive trial, we had to get people to re-try it. And to get people to re-try it, we needed to reassure them things would be different this time. They needed to feel like something had changed. So instead of changing the product, we used hypnotherapy to change them."
But isn't the whole notion of using hypnosis to change people's minds risky? Perhaps some folks will take offense?
"The campaign will appeal to people, but it will also disturb people," concedes Vicars, who seems to delight in that very prospect. "Already on Twitter we're seeing Marmite haters freaking out at the potential of eating Marmite-laden toast."
So, how seriously should we take the campaign?
"We wanted this to be real, not advertising trickery or a prototype that never actually happens," Vicars says. "So, the process in terms of safety and ethics were eye-opening. And the partners involved have been world-class. Our hypnotherapist came into the studio to record the audio for the film. Halfway through recording, some of the team had to step out of the room because they were being affected."
It should be noted that Fulcher's audio was not used in the teaser film. Or else Marmite would already be flying off the shelves in record numbers, right?
Client: Unilever - Marmite
Project/Campaign name: Mind Control
Client: Fikerte Woldegiorgis, Marketing Director for Savoury, Unilever UKI
Rachel Chambers, Marketing Manager, Unilever UK
Group Executive Creative Director: Ben Tollett
Chief Creative Officer: Richard Brim
Creatives: Simon Vicars, Andre Sallowicz, Matt Fitch, Mark Lewis
Agency Producer: Brittany Littlewood
Project Manager: Sam McGeorge, Alice Southam
Planner/s: Will Grundy
CEO/s: Mat Goff & Tammy Einav
Business Director/s: Tom White
Account Director/s: Oliver Lester, Georgia Roca
Account Executive/s: Emily Bristowe
Designer/Typographer: King Henry
Media agency: Mindshare
PR agency: W Communications
Live Action Production company: Moxie Pictures
Live Action Executive Producer: Dawn Laren
Live Action Producer: Jess Ensor
Live Action Director: Martin Granger
D.O.P: Theo Garland
Production Designer: Rosy Thomas
Costume Designer: Jonni Fitzgerald
Editing Company: Stitch
Editor: Tim Hardy
Animation Director: Ewan Jones Morris
Animation Production Company: Friends Electric
Producer: Giles Nathan, Xavier Questel
Exec Producer: Barney Richard
Lead Animator: Matthew Rowley
Animators: Douglas McGiness, George Dyson
Flame Op: Mark Chapman, Hani AlYousif
Colourist: Jason Wallis @ Electric Theatre Collective
Animation DOP: Peter Ford
Post Production: Electric Theatre Collective
Social Post-Production: cain&abel
Music Supervisor: n/a
Audio Post Production: String & Tins
Sound Designer: Will Cohen
Soundtrack name and composer: n/a
Hypnosis Consultant: Rory Z Fulcher