Sohini Sen

"Indians struggle with the concept of iced tea; they see it as 'hot tea gone cold'": Devraj Ghosh, Lipton

Lipton Ice Tea is trying to position itself as a tea-based fruit drink for the young urban consumer through its new communication, 'Chai Shy'.

It's an oft-repeated scenario. Boy's family comes to girl's house, girl goes and gets tea, the duo talk it out before deciding to get married. This is how marriages have been fixed for a long time now. However, with many changes in occupation and aspiration, even the traditional institution of marriage has changed. But much as we scoff and make fun of the custom of arranged marriages, the truth is that parents still insist on 'finding the perfect match'.

Lipton Ice Tea's new campaign takes a page off this book and weaves a story of finding the partner through an arranged match. The video shows a young man being persuaded by his mother to meet a girl she has chosen. His refusal slowly turns to acceptance when she 'happens' to visit him at home. They click and start creating a bond. However, not to fall into the trap of boy-sees-girl-who-gets tea for the family scenario, the lady in question offers him a glass of Lipton Ice Tea - signifying the refreshing change in the mindset of the new generation.

"Indians struggle with the concept of iced tea; they see it as 'hot tea gone cold'": Devraj Ghosh, Lipton
"Our biggest challenge is to change perceptions among an audience of heavy 'hot' tea drinkers. This is why our communication asks people to not have pre-conceived perceptions and not to judge too fast. Instead in situations when you are faced with a choice, if you challenge yourself and have the courage to question yourself and say why not, you might be surprised and delighted by your choice," explains Devraj Ghosh, consultant - senior marketing director, Pepsi Lipton JV, AMEA.

Lipton Ice Tea is a global brand selling in more than 100 countries but the challenges and solutions are more local. The brand has been positioning itself as a tea-based fruit drink in India, as opposed to hot tea gone cold. Interestingly, the ready-to-drink iced tea category is still nascent in the country whereas 'hot' tea is rooted in the culture.

Strategically this means that the team needed to create content that would challenge people to try a product they may not normally go for because of their preconceptions of taste. Socially, it wanted to motivate people to try new things in a society that is very respectful of heritage. Culturally, they wanted the message to be an instigator of a wider cultural discussion about opening one's eyes to new things and to pave the way for new interpretations of tradition.

"Indians struggle with the concept of iced tea; they see it as 'hot tea gone cold'": Devraj Ghosh, Lipton
"We approach every brief with the aim of creating content that is strategically, socially and culturally relevant. These three ambitions were tightly linked and led us to the creative platform of "Why ask why, when you can say Why Not?" which was to be the perfect invitation to our community of storytellers to come up with films that challenge traditional perceptions," explains David Alberts, chief creative officer at MOFILM, a Dubai based content sourcing company.

The idea of challenging traditional perceptions goes well with the target audience for the brand. "The mid-20-year-olds early jobbers, is our TG. We would first like to create the ready-to-drink tea category amongst our core audience of urban youth before going nationwide," adds Ghosh. But does it really challenge perception or leave some things to be desired?

"Indians struggle with the concept of iced tea; they see it as 'hot tea gone cold'": Devraj Ghosh, Lipton
"Indians struggle with the concept of iced tea; they see it as 'hot tea gone cold'": Devraj Ghosh, Lipton
Ananda Ray, NCD, Rediffusion Y&R feels that the film is 330 seconds too long and calls it new wine in old bottle. "The film, I have to admit, was watchable. It was refreshing for a number of reasons. The performances were natural, the cinematography and direction weren't out to prove themselves as profound. On the contrary, it kept histrionics aside to tell a story simply. Nevertheless, along the way, the story itself started to let me down. It began to feel contrived and I felt that the viewer was being set up in too obvious, and not entirely believable, a manner in order to enable the brand to make its point," says Ray.

Rohit Malkani, chief creative officer, Minority Brand Solutions, has been left with numerous questions after watching the films. Among these are - 'Why is there no real brand connect? Why is the casting so cheesy and the acting so stilted? Why is the film filled with presumptions? Why do you hope to achieve a connect with your audience through this film? And in one simple line he brushes it aside saying, "In the recent invasion of 'branded content' and digital films, this has got to be the bottom of the barrel."

Ray further points out that, "It dilutes the subtle power, the subtle shift in dynamics of that meeting, because it tries to explain and justify it (just as the line "why not" does). Further, the first part often breaks with logic and feels contrived. It's the same as someone explaining a joke before actually cracking the joke. I have to admit that when I first watched it, I didn't like the film much. But then my mind filtered out all the superfluous bits and realised that they concealed a gem. A pity."

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