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article imageMarmite and the BNP: Legal action over UK election broadcast

By Andrew John     Apr 25, 2010 in Food
The right-wing British National Party (BNP) has found itself at the centre of legal action following its party-political broadcast, in which a jar of Marmite appeared.
In a Web-based election broadcast, the BNP’s leader, Nick Griffin, addresses viewers and is flanked by the Union Flag, a photograph of Winston Churchill (the UK’s wartime leader), some British military medals and a jar of the popular yeast-extract spread Marmite.
In Britain, people tend to either love or abhor the taste of Marmite, and, in an apparent reference to the spread’s own advertising slogan, “Love it or hate it,” the video – which runs to almost five minutes – ends with an image of a jar of Marmite alongside the words “Love Britain, Vote BNP.”
Unilever, the company that manufactures the savoury spread, said that the image was used without the company’s permission. Sky News reports that a spokesperson for the company said in a statement: “We want to make it absolutely clear that Marmite did not give the BNP permission to use a pack shot of our product in their broadcast. Neither Marmite nor any other Unilever brand is aligned to any political party.
“We are currently initiating injunction proceedings against the BNP to remove the Marmite jar from the online broadcast and prevent them from using it in future.”
Ironically, Marmite itself is using a fake election broadcast on its Marmite News Network to advertise the spread. The advert appears to poke fun at the BNP by featuring an “Election Broadcast by The Hate Party.”
Sky reports that when they contacted Unilever, the multinational company refused to comment on their advert.
Griffin, meanwhile, in a statement on the official BNP website, said: “The official broadcast contains no mention or images of Marmite at all.
“Apparently, one of the people to whom we had given the broadcast to review inserted the Marmite jar in reaction to the disgraceful smear advertising campaign being run by Unilever, which smeared and spoofed the BNP and its Euro 2009 TV broadcast.
“Unilever’s advertising campaign is a blatant interference in the democratic process and their attack video is blatant incitement to violence.”
Background
Marmite is a by-product of beer brewing, and is made from yeast extract. It was first manufactured in Britain by the Marmite Food Extract Company in 1902 and, later, in South Africa. In New Zealand, the Sanitarium Health Food Company started manufacturing the spread in 1919, although this version has a different taste.
A “marmite” is actually a rounded earthenware cooking pot, an image of which can be seen on the front of the British jar. In Britain, Marmite was originally sold in earthenware pots. However, since the 1920s, it has been sold in glass jars that approximate their shape, and, in 2006, a thinner version in squeezable plastic jars was introduced alongside the glass ones.
The British National Party is a far-right organization formed as a splinter group from the National Front. Until this year, it restricted membership to people of Caucasian origin, but has had to review that policy after it was challenged in the courts in 2009 on the grounds of racial discrimination.
Members voted in February 2010 to amend the policy, and Nick Griffin said that the party would now “accept anyone as a member providing they agree with us that this country should remain fundamentally British.”
More about Marmite, British national party, BNP, Nick griffin, Right-wing
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