India is a country that thrives on its connection with tea. When it comes to the marketing for the various manufacturers of our favourite beverage, one has to wonder whether the human connection angle has been tried, tested and done to death. Perhaps it's still quite relevant, provided brands can showcase the connection with a unique approach.
Trying achieve just that is the latest ad from the stables of Wagh Bakri; a two-minute advert, released on both digital and TV. Conceptualised by Scarecrow M&C Saatchi, the ad is supposed to take the brand proposition of 'Hamesha Rishte Banaye', forward. The ad aims to highlight how tea is a catalyst for building and maintaining relations.
The ad features the return of a young Punjabi boy who has been living abroad. His time outside seems to have alienated him from the warmth of Indian culture. This includes sidestepping the welcoming embrace of his father and coldly responding to locals who recall him. The task of making him understand that he's lost his way, even though she's not privy to this behaviour, eventually falls upon the grandmother, who's making tea. As she makes a kettle of Wagh Bakri tea for the family, she also teaches the young upstart a lesson with a heart-touching one-liner, "Hamare yahan rishte 'hi' se nahi, chai se bante hain".
India is the world's largest producer and consumer of tea, thus rival brands have to take a myriad of routes to advertise their products and stand out in the crowd for better recall. For example, Tata Tea's Jaago Re campaign, launched in 2007, is aimed at changing the nature of 'Reactivism' to 'Pre-activism'. The brand transformed a humble cup of tea into a symbol of social awakening.
But 'Building Relationships' is the core brand message that Wagh Bakri has promoted from the very beginning. Right from the brand name - Wagh Bakri - the logo and the tagline - Hamesha Rishtey Banaye - have consistently revolved around that message.
In 2014, in a bid to further strengthen the message around relationships, the brand came up with the 'Rishton Ki Garmahat' film. The film went viral and is still trending across some platforms.
The company has opened 15 tea lounges, keeping in mind the growing popularity of 'tea cafes' in India. Apart from being a strong player in Western India, it is simultaneously growing in the Northern part of the country as well. When asked if this 'Rishton Ka Hi fever' campaign will help the brand achieve further growth, Yogesh Shinde, VP Marketing, Wagh Bakri Tea Group, replies, "Yes, as we have opened various 'Wagh Bakri Tea Lounges', which are not with a profit motive, we wanted people to come and explore our tea range."
"'Tea', as a social beverage, has mass appeal and a majority of today's youngsters still prefer it. And so, the film #HiNahiChaiPilao will surely work since our main hero is a young boy, there shall be an instant connect. This will give us a boost across India; but as we talk about the Northern market, it is growing at a good pace, just like our western market is," Shinde informs.
Regarding the brief provided to the agency, Shinde explains, "We keep doing various bits of research, with different objectives on studying consumer behaviour. Our recent consumer research in 2017, pointed out a fact portraying relationships getting colder. The trend of short conversations had not just invaded the youth of urban India, but rural India too. This gave Scarecrow M&C Saatchi an interesting brand film idea, one that positions tea as an enabler and a solution to this proverbial 'Hi fever'."
Manish Bhatt, founder-director, Scarecrow Communications, tells us that the agency is seemingly consistent in telling the brand story in their way. 'Hamesha Rishtein Banaye' is a brand philosophy that they have been cashing in on for quite some time now.
In 2013, Wagh Bakri and Scarecrow M&C Saatchi, in a bit of consumer research, discovered that relationships are losing their steam. "So, it turned out to be perfect timing for the brand," says Bhatt.
"We took that as an opportunity and added the functional tea category benefit of rejuvenation in an emotional way - the Rejuvenation of Relationships. And we articulated and conveyed 'Rishton mein garmahat laaye' as a prefix to the tagline in the four-minute FMCG film, 'Rishton ki Garmahat'.
"We as a creative agency, take self-compelled pressure in creating another sequel of the brand story which should break the previous records at the box office/ consumers' hearts. Hence, we did this sequel." he continues.
On being asked about the introduction of the grandmother, Bhatt says candidly, "Technology gave us this new disease - the 'Hi fever' - which is truncated, shortened conversations. Often, our conversations start and end with just a 'hi'. Dadi is always known for her 'gharelu' age-old 'nushkhas'. Who would be better than granny to pull off the remedy for such a disease?"
With relationships firmly at the core of all its communication, Wagh Bakri seems keen to reach out to a younger audience, feels Gaurav Kashalkar, creative director at Digitas.
"Coffee is already successful in establishing a strong association with friends and conversations, it's now chai's turn to be the beverage that helps families bond," he says.
While the film does capture the sentiment of the older generation and raises the right questions, Kashalkar feels it would have been more effective, had they tackled a singular problem. "Right now it seems to focus more on the 'hi', just to ensure that the granny gets a 'mic-drop' worthy signoff line while simultaneously trying to take on westernisation, technology and apathy," Kashalkar concludes.
A quick look at some of the ad films released by the contemporary tea brands in the recent past:
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