Thursday, October 04, 2007

Of Marmite and Bears...

OK - the first thing I thought?

As a Yank, I must admit two things about myself:

  1. I think Paddington is a cutie, but I've read very few of his books. I understand the whole general plotline (bear from Peru left at Paddington Station, etc...), but I honestly don't remember the series as being one I went back to again and again.
  2. I think the entire concept of "Marmite" (and Vegemite, too, if we're going to get technical) is totally, totally FOUL. Apparently lots of others think so here and here for two websites devoted to the subject (one love, one hate).
Apparently, though, the whole subject of whether Britain's fave bruin prefers marmalade or yeasty vegetable spread stuff is very important. I'd probably have to venture a guess that it's as important in the UK as Bert & Ernie's sexual orientation is in the US. If I'm being extreme I apologize, but it seems to me that both are pretty sacred ground.

However, the commercial is done with great humor...I especially like the gagging pigeon. I figured that if a pigeon gags on that stuff it must be pretty damned bad.

I thought it quite interesting that the author of the Paddington books had to reassure people that Paddington would not immediately switch to Marmite. In the meantime, the Yahoo article I linked to had this to say about some marketing points:

It was Bond's daughter Karen Jankel, who controls all Paddington merchandising, who approved the ad ahead of the launch on October 8 of Paddington Bear Goes To The Movies on DVD.

The film includes the irrepressible bear's interpretation of Gene Kelly's "Singin' in the Rain" dance.

That in turn is timed to coincide with the 50th birthday of the bear from Peru who, like Britain's Queen Elizabeth, has two birthdays a year -- on December 25 and June 25.

So someone is obviously piggybacking Paddington, Marmite, Gene Kelly, MGM musicals and Queen Elizabeth's birthday for marketing gain. (BTW, it must suck having two birthdays a year...doesn't that mean that when you're 50, you're actually 100? *sigh*)

This brings up a very interesting point...the point being how attached we become to icons of youth. We don't want them to change. Ever.

Even if it's something as simple as what they eat. Think about how freaked out I was about Cookie Monster varying his diet.

It's not just the fact that he's varying his's the fact that in our imaginations, we want to see our old childhood friends (even pretend ones) exactly the way we were before we grew up and worried about jobs and families and mortgages and such.

Thank God Laura Ingalls never heard of Marmite.