As Colin Espiner mused on Stuff, the return of 'NZ's favourite breakfast spread' has to be one of the greatest marketing campaigns of modern times. Or is it?
The earth fell away from many kiwis' feet when, a year back, Chch-based Sanitarium announced that EQ damage to its factory had halted production of Marmite. Cue general hysteria, panic buying, and media frenzy that made international headlines. Yes, pathetic but true: the world must have thought there was nothing else worrying NZers but their next Marmite fix!
Virgin jars of the stuff were fetching insane prices on TradeMe, while a renowned celebrity photographer published an exhibition...of the bottom of used Marmite jars owned by Rachel Hunter, Marc Ellis, and Sir Graham Henry! No, NOT Rachel Hunter's bottom - just the bottom of her used Marmite jar!
Then came delay after delay, as Sanitarium's EQ repairs took far longer than expected. That however did not stop Sanitarium slapping an import ban on UK Marmite!
Now a full year after it vanished, Marmite has returned this week in a well-planned marketing campaign that included free jars sent to politicians and media types, recipes for "Marmite chicken'' and a midnight supermarket opening that had queues around the block in some centres. Oh, puh-leeezzz!!!
But hang about! Marmite officionardos reckon it tastes a bit funny. Has Sanitarium been mucking about with the recipe? They say they haven't. Have Marmiters just been deprived of their fav taste too long? Hell, don't ask me: I'm a Vegemite guy.
And that's the Big Question: IS Marmite really NZ's favourite, or are we just told it is? Is that whole 'koiwoi heritage' thing more important to some consumers than the product itself (and do they know or care that it was originally made in England)?
Frankly, my dear, I just don't give a damn!