THE MARMARATI – (an internet and personal history)
Back in 2009, I came across a page that offered the ultimate fans of Marmite the opportunity to be a part of a very exclusive club called The Marmarati and to win a limited edition Jar of a new, extra strong version of Marmite.
We had to show that we were devoted; and we had to create proof of this devotion in the form of video, images, poetry, songs and stories. Once submitted, my application had its own page where visitors could vote on how good they thought this submission was. I would visit now and again to see how my submission was going, but in time, normal life prevailed and I forgot that I had entered this most wonderful competition. When I think back on that, I can’t believe how something so important could be forgotten. The closing date was 14th December 2009, and I was in Christmas mode.
The one day, I had the most wonderful email from The Marmarati, who already had a First Circle of members. I was one of the chosen 160, I was now a Second Circle Marmarati, and the owner of a money-can’t-buy edition of Marmite XO, and the first 40 jars were given to the 40 First Circle members. I was ecstatic, and instantly replied to the email giving them the information requested and being offered to join The Marmarati secret Facebook page. This was it – I was now a Marmite super-fan, part of an exclusive club of people as passionate about Marmite as I was. What I had no idea about at that time was how this was about to change my whole life and turn it upside-down.
About a fortnight later, brought by the Royal Mail, was this parcel. Nothing spectacular about the parcel initially, but on the label it had the crest of The Marmarati. I held my breath as I opened it, knowing it was a special occasion. Inside, there was a small rectangular box with an order as shown below:
Sadly, at that time, my technological devices were either pretty basic or non-existent. I was unable to film my opening of the box, but if I had realised that I would have received a higher accolade within the Marmarati as an Ambassador, I would have begged, borrowed but not stolen such a video device. Inside was a seed …….. To most people it was a Marmite jar, well, two of them in reality. To me though, it was a seed, the seed of the Marmite Museum. I had no idea how significant this globular brown jewel was to my future. I opened a scroll which was my certificate of Membership to the Marmarati, and with it another scroll – The Marmarati Oath. – an oath which I still hold dear and follow with all my heart.
THE MARMARATI OATH
Should you be invited to join us, you will be required to take this solemn promise.
• I hereby and hereon solemnly swear on celery, yeast extract, riboflavin and vitamin B12 to keep the following oath and agreement.
• I promise to do my duty to Queen, Country and Marmite.
• I swear to be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Marmarati.
• I will defend the ebony elixir against all conspiracies, protect it’s distinctive flavour and honour its orb-like jar.
• I will reject any second-rate pretenders
• I promise to spread my dark and sticky mistress throughout the land, as well as on toast.
• And finally I swear never, ever to consort with members of the Marmaladi.
I read it out loud and loved the Steampunk, Victorian style of The Marmarati, it was based almost in a parallel reality where people still respected an oath, and our mentor – William Fotherington-Smythe, spoke or wrote in a language of a by-gone age. William invited me to the Marmarati Facebook group where I met a wonderful circle of people, from all over the world and from all kinds of backgrounds. Many of these people grew to be my closest friends, whom I would never ever had met hadn’t it been for me entering this competition. I would visit this group several times a day, where tips on how to use Marmite for more than just a spread for toast and sandwiches.
We were now 200 Marmarati strong, and all of us were given this wonderful gift of the Limited Edition Marmite XO jars, but more importantly, we had work to do, we had to push Marmite XO to the masses through social media and blogs.
While I and the other 199 members were basking in the Marmarati glory, in advertising circles, Marmite’s promotion had been a rousing success, with the advertising company “We Are Social” winning many accolades and awards for The Marmarati marketing campaign.
This is how they explained their challenge that Unilever had presented them through their website:
“Unilever were developing a new “extra-strong” variant of Marmite, a yeast-extract breakfast spread in the UK that is marketed as a product which you either “Love” or “Hate”.
Our challenge was to launch the product entirely using social media, creating awareness and desire to trial the product amongst existing consumers, specifically the category of “extreme” Marmite Lovers (daily and high-volume users)
Our strategy was to position the product as something only the true Marmite fan would be worthy of having. Participation in the campaign would be a badge of honour for those people who really love Marmite. The creative solution was an exclusive club – The Marmarati – a secret society with an entertaining and humorous tone of voice from the Victorian era. By creating an exclusive group only for “super-fans”, we launched the extra-strong variant at only 20% of the investment normally required.
At only 20% of the cost of typical product launch, Marmite XO achieved retail sales of over $600K in its first 6 months, with a premium price point during a period of recession. Using the monitoring technology Sysomos to track the blog and Twitter elements of the campaign, we recorded over 6,000 twitter updates mentioning Marmarati, and 150 blog posts about the Marmarati and Marmite XO, reaching an estimated 2.4 million online readers. In the month the competition was open, the website received 2,835 user registrations, 66,895 votes were cast on 846 approved entries uploaded (from over 1,200 total submissions).
The lasting result is the Marmarati community: loyal brand advocates available to help launch future products, a group who desire to be involved in an ongoing dialogue with the brand.
We devised a history, invented traditions, and created heroes and enemies for this ‘secret society’ which became the tone of voice and driving force of the launch. Working with Marmite’s product design agency, we developed an identity for the Marmarati that brought to life the eccentric and playful tone of voice, which was carried through all the online and offline communications, including the final packaging for the retail version of the product.
The Marmite XO product was successfully launched with no paid for media whatsoever, which we believe is a first for Unilever globally.” (1.)
Read the entire campaign information here – https://wearesocial.net/forrester-marmarati/
Being a part of the Marmarati has been amazing, the people, the honour, the accolade of being a “superfan”……………and it’s through The Marmarati that the idea of the Marmite Museum was formed when one member – Terry Constant – called my fledgling collection a Marmite Museum. It stuck and the rest is history.
It was during this wonderful period that life as a Marmarati felt like a parallel life in a parallel universe where chatter in the Marmarati facebook page was totally different than you would normally talk. It was very old fashioned in a Victorian dialect and it was during this time that William Fotherington-Smythe dropped a bombshell on us. Lord Marmarati had been caught as a traitor; he had been cavorting with Lady Marmaladi and the Marmarati treasures were stolen, he was due to stand trial in a London Court. A call had been to members of The Marmarati to make haste to London for the trial of a lifetime
The result was a three hour event held in the vaults and banqueting hall of the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn, London. The evening included a candle lit reception complete with Marmite jar candle holders, a dramatic re-enactment of the Trial of Lord Marmarati, with tailor made props and pieces of evidence, and Marmite canapés and most importantly – Unlimited Champagne :). It was an amazing evening but I had to leave a little earlier than I would have liked to as hubby and I had to catch the last train home to Cardiff.
It was during this evening that we voted in the new Lord Marmarati – and who could do that better than the honourable Master Blender himself – St.John Skelton.
The Facebook group was ultra-chatty for months as photographs and videos were shared and enjoyed by the members who could make the evening and the members who couldn’t. I was lucky to have the full scroll of the members that were at the trial which is a part of my treasures from The Marmarati.
Here is a short video of the evening where we judged the blaggard that was the old Lord Marmarati.
After my entrance to the second circle, we chatted via Facebook and private messaging and got to know each other, but after 2 years The Marmarati echelons decided to inflate the ranks with another 300 people. To prove your devotion this time, a new website was born and 8 challenges were set.
• Challenge 1 – Photography: Submit a photo that includes Marmite XO to enter this challenge.
• Challenge 2 – Crafts: Submit a photo or video of a craft you’ve made that has been inspired by Marmite or Marmite XO.
• Challenge 3 – Art: Submit a photo or video of a piece of your art that was inspired by Marmite or Marmite XO.
• Challenge 4 – Cooking: Submit a text, photo or video recipe that includes Marmite XO as an ingredient.
• Challenge 5 – Exploration: Submit a photo of Marmite XO in an unusual location.
• Challenge 6 – Poetry: Submit a text, photo or video of a poem or song you’ve written that is inspired by Marmite XO.
• Challenge 7 – Shrines: Submit a photo, video or text list that shows your collection of Marmite memorabilia.
• Challenge 8 – Party: Submit a photo, video or text story that explains how you would create an event to celebrate Marmite XO in public or with friends.
The Marmarati were given a week or so to get the ball rolling with different submissions and we could vote on each other’s submissions and points were awarded. Once the submissions were made live, we had to share the competition all over the web by whatever means at our disposal. The submissions erupted and there was some amazing talent out there that came to light. As Marmarati, we were encouraged to vote on how we perceived submissions and be vigilant for any wrongdoings. By the time the closing date arrived on the 19th August 2012, there had been 100’s of submissions and the inner sanctum had a job on their hands to judge each submission and whittle out the wheat from the chaff.
Slowly and surely, we were introduced via Facebook and Twitter to the next level of Marmarati to the Second Circle and some new long lasting friendships were formed that spanned almost all the continents. We still hadn’t been told what our points were being used for; the Inner Sanctum had mentioned that there were treasures to be had, so there was still a buzz of excitement going on. The only thing that had been said was what was on the FAQ for the competition under – What do I win?
“The aim of the Marmarati site is to help identify the top Marmite lovers in the world and induct them into the Marmarati, which is a prize enough in itself. On top of this you’ll be in excellent company in a private and exclusive Facebook group, you may be offered first tastes of new products, hear exclusive Marmite news first and be given access to an exclusive Marmarati shop with Marmarati merchandise…you may even be given special credits to buy this free of charge.”
Then one morning, we all awoke to a wonderful email from William and the Inner Sanctum. The Marmarati shop was open and our points were used as currency. There were some items that were plentiful such as the Marmite XO ceramics, oven gloves and apron, and others that were limited with some only limited to 5 pieces. I managed to get hold of one of each “limited” item apart from a Silver Marmarati Marmite Spreader. Later on, other Marmarati member donated items I did not have to keep in the collection for posterity.
Sadly, the Marmarati is no longer allowing new candidates which is sad as there are some amazing people out there that I believe should be a part of the Marmarati. However, Unilever may no longer be using the Marmarati as an advertising tool any longer, but the Marmarati members can’t let go of what we are. Superfans……..and we are all still extremely proud of being a Marmarati and wearing our badges with pride.
For posterity, I took note of the history of the Marmarati from its inception to the present time.
MARMARATI HISTORY **
Every Story has a Beginning……………..
Marmite comes into being in 1902. Peace arrives to the British Colonies with the end of the Boer War, happiness and trust is restored to the nation.
Things begin to crumble by 1909. Social circles think it fashionable to expose closely guarded secrets to gain credibility. The more precious the secret, the more rungs climbed on the ladder to high society.
In that year alone, Madame Eusapia Palladino, a famous spiritualist medium at the time is branded Madame Fakerio by the media after being exposed as a fraud. Oudini, a Houdini impersonator releases a book exposing the tricks of the most famous escape artists. Fears increased over alleged intrusion into the public’s personal lives, with dark forces being perceived to be obtaining ever-increasing amounts of private information, which in turn inspired great authors to write allegorical tales capturing the paranoia and hysteria felt throughout this period of time. The only small consolation of living in this chaotic, terrifying year was the unveiling of one of the most important inventions of the 20th century – the modern toaster.
It was against this cultural backdrop that the founders and close friends of the makers of Marmite decided to go underground with Marmite’s recipe. Burning all public documentation of Marmite’s blending and production processes, and binding those entrusted through the swearing of a solemn oath, ensuring the secret was kept and passed down to the next carefully selected generation throughout the ages.
From the day of its inception, this clandestine society went under the name of the ‘Marmarati’: hand-picked Guardians of the Marmite code, entrusted to pass on the knowledge only to those that are deemed worthy.
During the Marmarati’s 100 year celebration in 2009 it was deemed that the next line of Marmarati would be selected from the realm of ‘The Internet’, so that the society could move into modern times safe in the knowledge that progress and tradition would be bound hand in sticky hand. The new members of the Marmarati proved their devotion with a strength and fervour rarely seen, and were rewarded with the launch of the most powerful Marmite ever made. Codenamed the ‘MXO’, later ‘Marmite XO’, this new Marmite was blended and made only by lovers; only for lovers.
The Marmarati enjoyed snacking and devouring their new blend until late 2011 whence forth shocking allegations concerning the leader of their number, Lord Marmarati, were leaked to the Inner Sanctum. In a Marmarati Court, at which the defendant dare not show his face, grave evidence of heinous crimes was presented to the assembled throng, namely ‘Squandering Marmarati riches’, ‘Endangering the Future of XO’ and the most disgraceful of all ‘Consorting with the Marmaladi’, our orange-feasting bitter enemies.
St. John Skelton, the Master Blender of Marmite, was shortly thereafter elected as the new Lord Marmarati. His steadfast devotion to the sticky mistress, unwavering courage in the face of troubled times and steely resolve to a better future for all has led to the creation of this new portal, welcoming old members and Marmarati prospects together under a set of skills and challenges that will reawaken the senses and share once more our glorious story with the world.
**(Marmarati History is Copyright © 2012 Unilever. All rights reserved)