Marmite – you either love it, or you hate it: In keeping with the traditional response that this horrible, vile substance elicits – this new ad for Marmite showing Marmite welfare officers visiting houses to save jars of Marmite from neglect and find them a new home has had everyone talking.

Within a day of the ad airing, the Advertising Standards Authority received 250 complaints from viewers. Can’t say if these are 250 very bored/sad people with no sense of humour what so ever – or a very eager PR team writing mock complaints.

Case in point: a comment on the Guardian article about the many hundreds of complaints: “Exactly. 250 people need to get a life. I mean how dull and meaningless is your life when you get so annoyed you make the effort to complain about yeast?” (HT @stangreenan)

Anyway – on Thursday, after the complaint count reached 330, Unilever announced that it would donate £18,000 to the RSPCA as an apology to animal rights activists for spoofing the important work they do. Still, the ASA is looking into it and will announce next week if it is to launch a formal investigation.

I don’t know if the ASA’s involvement was planned or genuine. I would argue however that it has definitely worked in Marmite’s favour. Due to the the threat of the ad being banned, it’s been widely featured in the media and it was the talk of Twitter.

Source: Marmite

There are a few more elements to the campaign that haven’t been so readily discussed:

  • a promoted Tweet is encouraging people to head to the microsite/Marmite Facebook app and either donate their own jar or nominate possible foster families
  • a real-life Marmite Neglect team is touring the land, visiting people’s homes to see if there are any jars to be saved from neglect
  • along with the TV ad, there’s also a series of snapshots of kitchen cupboards, with long-neglected Marmite jars poking out from between the more popular cupboard staples
  • and on Marmite’s Youtube channel, there is an interview with a Trainee Marmite Rescue Officer who talks about the tools of the Marmite saving trade

Iceberg rescues Titanic: Huge news this week as out of nowhere, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos surprised the worlds’ media by agreeing to buy the Washington Post for $250 million (to remind you, Instagram and Tumblr were recently acquired for $1 billion each).

Amongst the many breathless headlines, I thought Salon said it best with theirs: The iceberg just rescued the Titanic – and the rest of the piece is chock full of great info as well.

Meanwhile, @AllThingsIC pulled together a great post looking at how the news of the sale was communicated to WaPo staffers, including an all staff email that starts with ‘You’ll have heard the news’. While you can argue about the timing of the timings of the internal comms – ideally you’d want people inside the business to find out before the media – Bezos’ letter is a fantastic example of communicating change internally.

Fake fans: You may have caught the great piece on C4 Dispatches called “Celebs, Brands and Fake Fans“ about how some companies artificially inflate social media likes, fans and followers by buying them.

The doco shows how you’d go about building a fake community – one fake account at a time. Why any brand would invest money in this kind of approach instead of concentrating on listening to your customers, understanding and delivering against their needs, I do not know.

As @girllostincity puts it: “there are no short-cuts in building an audience. There is no ‘easy way’ to getting people to “like” you. It is a dangerous idea to think that by cheating people into thinking you’re popular (by recruiting fake people) that this will somehow transform into authentic popularity somewhere down the line.”

In response to the piece, @georgiahalston looks at how you should interpret the value of your social media following and – guess what! – the focus should be on quality (engagement, sentiment, sincerity of the audience) rather than quantity (likes, fans, followers, views). Over on Londoncalling, CEO of Kred @AndrewGrill provides thoughts on whether social media is in crisis.

Bebo’s back: I was at Aol when it acquired the social network Bebo. Aol didn’t really do much with it, it was sold to another Internet company who also didn’t really do much with it and finally it was sold to the original founder of Bebo, Michael Birch. Birch has just released a brilliant – and very NSFW – clip that harks back to the glory days when Bebo was the centre of the web (for you younger kids, this was after MySpace and waaay before Facebook) and arguably the single biggest repository of illustrated cock and balls ever. Yes. You read that correctly.

Shocking PR win for Apple: Fake iPhone chargers have been known to electrocute people, sometimes leading to victims falling into a coma or death. Apple have recognised that this issue could lead to considerable brand damage – not to mention questions about why their chargers are so danged expensive that there is a market for fakes in the first place, and, you know, dead people – and have announced a USB power adapter takeback program.

This will allow customers to bring their fake chargers to Apple and in receive an official Apple charger for half the price. Very, very clever stuff. Not only does it make them come off as the good guys, they’re driving sales on the back of it.

Tesco Watford: Hat’s off to the chaps at Tesco and Google Maps for producing this great walk through of the newly renovated Watford Extra. Pretty, sure, but I prefer a supermarket that understands the value of values.

Videos of the week: The Premier League is coming to US broadcaster NBC and they’ve produced a great little clip of Spurs and their new American manager’s first few days in the job

Messi wears a suit fitted with hundreds of LEDs to create some pretty trippy stuff in Adidas’ new ad for their space aged boots

You’ll watch what others tweet: Tweets about TV shows make people tune in to those TV shows, according to new data from Nielsen.

The new Facebook: If you’re super keen to try out the new Graph Search function on Facebook, all you need to do is change your language to ‘English US’.

And finally: Why it’s important to be able to tell the difference between airlines and airlanes.