In politics, image is everything.
The UK is gearing up for what promises to be one of the tightest elections in recent memory on 6 May. For all the political parties involved their success in creating and portraying an image will come to pass with each cross on each ballot paper.
Similarly for brands, the way you align yourself is vital. Unilever’s food spread Marmite has built a quintessentially British image in the UK, trading on the acquired taste with its ‘love it or hate it’ campaigns.
Meanwhile, The British Nationalist Party (BNP) is a far-right political party that has received severe criticism in the media for its extreme nationalist policies and it has tried to align itself as the embodiment Britishness.
And so, last week, party leader Nick Griffiths gave a political broadcast with a set that included Union Jack flag, a picture of revered ex-prime minister Winston Churchill and a jar of Marmite.The BNP was trying to utilise the relationship UK consumers have with the product with a less-than-subtle piece of product placement.
Marmite hadn’t given their consent for use of the image and legal action has followed.
Unilever has been one of the biggest movers in social responsibility and needs to maintain a neutral political stance. Being aligned with such an extreme viewpoint could have done permanent damage to the image of a successful brand.
While legal action and the publicity it provokes isn’t always the answer, Unilever’s no nonsense approach should be applauded.