Deepashree Banerjee

Hands that rise for namaz also make Ganpati idols...

That's the plot of Red Label tea's latest spot - inspired by a true story.

Talk about bridging rifts and bringing communities together, the latest Brooke Bond Red Label campaign #ShreeGaneshApnepanKa is an attempt to do just that. This ad is an ode to all the relationships that have cropped up over cups of tea.

The over two-minute-long digital-only film is, as the disclaimer at the end says - "Inspired by a true story".

Hands that rise for namaz also make Ganpati idols...

The campaign film reveals what happens when a cup of tea makes us question our deep-rooted prejudices

Owned by Unilever, Brooke Bond is the parent of sub-brands like Red Label, Taaza and Taj Mahal. Of these, Red Label has, so far, been the best bet for Brooke Bond in the tea category.

While 'Building Relationships' is the core brand message that competitor Wagh Bakri has been banking on right from the beginning, Red Label, the centenarian tea brand, on the other hand, has taken it a notch higher by treading the path less travelled.

Wagh Bakri started creating campaigns that have traditionally highlighted tea and its ability to diffuse tension and awkward situations to bring people closer. The idea was to encourage people to be more inclusive and accepting, irrespective of culture, gender and other differences.

The agency has faith in the power of ideas and storytelling to change human behaviour - maintains the team at Geometry Encompass, the agency that crafted the campaign.

The film was shot in a Ganpati idol workshop, one of many that can be seen on the streets of Mumbai, weeks before the homecoming of Bappa (Lord Ganesha).

The film features a conversation between an idol-maker and a first-time buyer of the idol. The plot sees a twist when the knowledgeable artisan pulls out his Muslim prayer-cap and readies himself for namaz in response to the azaan. This leaves the excited buyer a little distressed and he chooses to leave. That's when a glass of Red Label tea takes charge and turns things around.

"We saw a great human insight and wanted to tell a simple but thought-provoking story, luckily we found the perfect occasion. #ShreeGaneshApnepanKa poses a pertinent question to us all, the answer to which can be found in a sip of tea," says an agency spokesperson. The spokesperson also adds, "As a medium-agnostic agency, it also helps us sustain a perpetual dialogue with our clients on ideas and how we can make the brand more relevant to consumers."

Hands that rise for namaz also make Ganpati idols...

Shankar Shinde

Commenting on the Brand's creative brief, Shankar Shinde, managing partner, Geometry Encompass says, "We've been working with Unilever for over two decades and we understand the brand ethos. So, this was no formal brief. It was, rather, a pro-active idea pitched to our client who helped us fine-tune it."

When asked about the dos and don'ts to be kept in mind while executing such a campaign Shinde states, "Be honest, be well-informed of cultural sensitivities, don't tell but ask, ensure the product plays a logical role in the narrative and, most importantly, never-ever make anyone feel ostracised,"

"The key challenge for the agency was to understand the emotional complexities of what two people feel in such a situation and bring it out both with apt words and emotions. The script was crafted keeping in mind a cultural-balance, as the agency has to be respectful towards everyone," he adds.

Hands that rise for namaz also make Ganpati idols...

A still from an older Brooke Bond Red Label’s ad released in 2014

Clearly moving beyond a teapot brew to a picture-perfect family having their own 'cuppa time', a form of advertising Brooke Bond Red Label chose to bid adieu to back in 2014, the brand finally had their light-bulb moment as they replaced it with the new brand proposition - Swaad Apnepan ka (Taste of Togetherness) - and there was no looking back since.

Religion, as a territory to venture into, is still considered a strict no-no among advertisers in India is what Rahul DaCunha, the man behind Amul's topical (often bold!) ads, believes.

Brooke Bond Red Label has a rich history of socially inclusive advertising - from the first edition of its Six Pack Band campaign to creating a viral music video with India's first transgender band or stirring a conversation on disability through music!

Its 2014 ad, with its brand proposition - 'Swad Apnepan Ka' - Red Label got quite a bit of attention when it portrayed a reluctant Hindu family becoming good friends with their Muslim neighbour over a few cups of Red Label tea.

Carrying forward the 'Swad Apnepan Ka' proposition, another Red Label campaign this year - 'A Tale of 2 blends' - by Ogilvy, proves, in a social experiment, just how tea tastes better with company.

The digital piece, apart from sharing its take on religious ties that come into a tussle during this auspicious month that's celebrated by both communities, manages to shed a good amount of light on how (conveniently) ignorant we are to the nuances of the religions we practice. And, we certainly got the drift from the message in the later-half of the film that equates craftsmanship to worship.

Tea, being a universally penetrated category, comes with its own share of marketing challenges to break the clutter and this one has successfully weaved the social message into the narrative, keeping the product at the centre of the conversation in the campaign.

So, did 'a lot happen' over a cup of humble tea? We asked the industry aces.

The real hero which, in this case, turns out to be the heart-warming script itself, comes as a refreshing change in the space which is increasingly getting too cluttered with often flashy, forced-activism-driven narratives.

Hands that rise for namaz also make Ganpati idols...

Anadi Sah

Hands that rise for namaz also make Ganpati idols...

Shrenik Gandhi

Anadi Sah, lead innovation - creative and technology, Isobar, feels that the campaign is a heart-warming story that has been crafted in the purest form and delivers a powerful message. "The piece not only conveys that we should overcome deep-rooted prejudices but also exhibits how disconnected the present generation is from the learnings of its own faith," Sah says.

"If content is king, good timing is his crown," feels Shrenik Gandhi, chief executive officer and co-founder, White Rivers Media.

"This campaign scores on content and timing," he says, sounding impressed. "The community angle is a very sensitive option for a brand and this has been handled nicely, aptly respecting both religions. Moreover, it's amplified well. So, overall, a great campaign; promoted well for a brand people love. The size of the film is not too long and the characters play the role well," Gandhi winds up.