A lifeguard on a beach eats a cheese and Marmite sandwich. When a man begins to drown, the lifeguard jumps into action, pulls him back to shore where he gives him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
The victim, now revived, pulls the lifeguard's head towards him and begins to kiss him back. The company's press release then described the lifeguard as "Desperately trying to pull away from the man, the lifeguard is unable to escape until the revived man finally comes to his senses and releases him."
The makers of Marmite incorrectly claimed the ad to be the first to contain a same-sex kiss, which is untrue for gay men or lesbians, as well as for England, Europe or elsewhere in the world. The first same-sex kiss aired anywhere debuted in Denmark in 1993 for Politiken
Unilever says the commercial was not intended to be controversial, but simply continued the theme that people either love or hate the taste of the spread. (Marmite is similar to Australia's smelly Vegemite spread, made famous by the 1980s Men at Work song, "Down Under".)
"There is nothing in the advert which could cause offense," said a Unilever spokeswoman.
Dozens of viewers had complained to the independent television commission that the ad portrayed a gay kiss and was screened at a time when children might be watching. However, the British ad oversite organization ITC ruled that the kiss was a "clearly jokey scenario" and did not portray "homosexual intimacy or indeed sexual or romantic activity of any sort."