Marmite's ad spoofs animal rescue documentaries

Unilever has donated £18,000 to the RSPCA following the outcry over the company’s Marmite TV ad.

The ad, which is a spoof on animal rescue documentaries, has attracted hundreds of complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority since it was first screened on Monday evening.

Many claim the ad is in poor taste and is offensive, while others have complained it trivialises the work of animal and child protection agencies.

Marmite owner Unilever today announced it was making a donation to the RSPCA “to support the great work they are doing to combat animal cruelty” – though it refused to tell The Grocer how much it would be donating. The RSPCA has since said it had been offered £18,000 – which is the amount it costs to run the society’s inspectorate service for one day.

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“This will make a massive difference to the animals and we are very grateful for their generosity,” said an RSPCA spokesman. “We are thrilled Marmite have put their money where their mouth is and are spreading the love for animal welfare by making a donation.”

Meanwhile, the ASA today revealed the number of complaints it had received about the ad had broken the 400 mark. It has also, however, received “a steady stream” of messages of support for the ad, the authority said. It will review the complaints before deciding whether they will be formally investigated. This decision is not likely to be made until next week.

Earlier this week Unilever issued a statement saying it was never its intention to cause offence with the ad, which was the first time Marmire had been on TV for two years.

“We have made every effort to ensure this commercial entertains anyone who watches it,” said a spokesman. “It ranked highly throughout our rigorous testing process and with clear branding from the outset, as well as the comedic tone, we believe we have created an unmistakably Marmite ad – people will either love it or hate it and they certainly won’t forget it.

“We hope that everyone will watch and enjoy this commercial in the light-hearted way it was intended.”