These reports are case summaries of complaints which appeared to raise issues of substance in relation to the interpretation of the ITC Advertising Standards Code. Summary statistics of non-substantive complaints can be found in the full reports which are obtainable from the ITC.
Marmite - Lifeguard kiss
Complaint from: 71 viewers
The advertisement opens with a shot of a beach lifeguard preparing and eating a Marmite sandwich. He sees a male swimmer in distress and goes to the rescue. The swimmer, unconscious when brought back to the beach, receives the 'kiss of life' from the lifeguard. Almost immediately, the swimmer regains consciousness and clamps his mouth to the lifeguard's. The lifeguard fends him off. The commercial ends with a pack shot of a jar of Marmite and the strap-line "You either love it or hate it".
Viewers complained that the advertising portrayed a homosexual act and was unsuitable for broadcast at times when children might be watching. Some also objected that the scenario undermined the role of lifeguards, trivialised the act of resuscitation and could potentially dissuade people from learning the technique. One complainant said the idea of food being transferred between mouths was offensive.
The ITC judged that Marmite's "love it or hate it" campaign was now well established and viewers would generally have understood the joke: that the rescued man so liked the taste of Marmite that on coming round he acted impulsively and grabbed hold of the lifeguard.
The ITC did not agree that the scenario portrayed homosexual intimacy, or indeed sexual or romantic activity of any sort. Neither did it agree that the commercial posed any threat either to the standing of lifeguards or to the willingness of people to learn resuscitation techniques.
Judging the clearly jokey scenario of a man enjoying the taste of food on another's mouth unlikely to generate widespread offence the ITC ruled that intervention would be inappropriate.
Complaints not upheld.