Take Tea and See, Again
Decades ago, tea makers took out ads that urged coffee-mad consumers to “Take tea and see.” Today, a leader in the booming tea market is asking tea drinkers to take another look at their favorite beverage.
In a campaign now under way, Celestial Seasonings, a division of the Hain Celestial Group, is promoting its “green” business practices along with the health and diet benefits of its teas, green or otherwise.
The campaign is appearing in print, outdoors, online and in stores. It will also be supported with sampling programs at ski resorts, where skiers will get free tea bags or cups of hot tea served to them from insulated jugs.
The ads seek to appeal to consumers in their 20’s and 30’s, primarily women, as well as the older tea aficionados who were in those age groups when Celestial Seasonings was introduced by the hippie entrepreneurs, Mo Siegel and Wyck Hay, in 1969.
The campaign is the first work from a new agency for Celestial Seasonings, TDA Advertising and Design in Boulder, Colo. For the last several years, the limited advertising that the company ran was created internally.
The budget for the new campaign is being estimated at $3 million to $5 million, a fivefold or sixfold increase in spending compared with the last couple of years.
The campaign is also meant to familiarize consumers with a rebranding effort that includes a new look for the Celestial Seasonings logo as well as a redesign of the product packages. The makeover is the brainchild of the Sterling Group in New York.
Celestial Seasonings is stepping up its marketing as the thriving dry-tea industry — the market for tea bags, rather than tea in bottles — becomes more crowded and compartmentalized. The brand competes in the segment of the market known as specialty, gourmet or premium, along with rivals like Bigelow, Harney & Sons, Stash, Tazo, Twinings and Yogi Tea.
For instance, the December issue of More magazine, aimed at the important tea-drinking demographic group of women in their 40’s and 50’s, carries ads for Celestial Seasonings, Twinings and Yogi.
Celestial Seasonings also competes to some degree with the many mass-market, lower-priced brands of tea bags, which include Lipton, Red Rose, Salada and Tetley.
Celestial Seasonings is the best-seller in the higher-priced segment of the dry-tea market and is No.2 among all brands, behind Lipton.
“There are a lot of teas out there,” says Matt Sungy, senior product manager for the Celestial Seasonings brand, also based in Boulder.
“The category can be a little cluttered,” he adds.
The new campaign and rebranding efforts are intended “to bring Celestial Seasonings up to the 21st century,” Mr. Sungy says, “and make it easier for consumers to shop the category” — for his products, of course.
Previously, the box for each flavor had its own distinctive look, which tended to play down their common identities as varieties of Celestial Seasonings.
“Some of the artwork remains the same” after the redesigns, Mr. Sungy says, like the drawing of the bear that represents the Sleepytime variety of herb tea, a blend of chamomile and spearmint leaves.
The company hired TDA last spring to create a campaign because “we felt like we wanted fresh ideas from an outside group,” Mr. Sungy says.
Research conducted among consumers by the agency as well as by Celestial Seasonings found that there was an opportunity, “more than any time in the past,” he adds, to speak to younger and older tea drinkers, ages 25 to 55, with similar messages.
“The age groups seem disparate,” Mr. Sungy says, “but a lot of the same general interests are there.”
One such interest is book clubs and reading clubs, he adds, so plans call for the introduction of a Celestial Seasonings Book Club with its own Web site, where readers will be able to find discussion guides and make comments on forums.
Another interest shared by younger and older tea drinkers is in how a company conducts itself in the business world.
That is addressed in one new magazine ad, which carries this headline: “When we started, fair trade meant the tea showed up in Boulder after we paid for it.”
Another print ad addresses the “green” aspects of Celestial Seasonings. “Use a tea bag without a string and save a tree,” the ad declares. “Or at the very least, save a string.”
The ad says that by forgoing tags and strings on its tea bags, Celestial Seasonings keeps “over 3 million pounds of paper from being deposited in landfills every year.”
“It’s another way Celestial Seasonings is making our world a better place to live,” the ad concludes.
Health issues are also high on the lists of interests of women ages 25 to 55. One magazine ad addressing that carries a puckish headline: “This tea has many health benefits, none of which have to be followed by pages of possible side effects.”
Weight-watching is another shared interest of the target audience, which is the subject of a series of ads being tested in Boston. The ads are appearing on signs in trains and train stations.
All three test ads show paper or plastic cups of goopy, elaborate coffee drinks. The cups all bear descriptions modeled after the words printed on the sides of cups in gourmet coffee shops, used to identify customers’ choices, but with pointed messages about calorie counts.
One ad shows a coffee drink topped with chocolate syrup and a cherry. There are three words on the side of the cup: “Non-fat,” “low-fat” and “fat.” There is a big “X” next to “fat.”
In the second ad, a coffee drink topped with foam and cinnamon has these three words on the side of the cup: “Chin,” “double chin” and “triple chin.” The big “X” is marked next to the third choice.
Similarly, in the third ad, a coffee drink topped with foam and syrup has these three words on the side of the cup: “Pants,” “sweat pants” and “mumu.” In this instance, the big “X” appears next to “mumu.”
Each ad shows a box of Celestial Seasonings tea with “0 calories” next to the photograph. Across the bottom is an invitation “to learn more about the benefits of our teas” at the brand’s Web site, celestialseasonings.com.
“Tea is so hot with young people,” says Jonathan Schoenberg, creative director at TDA, no pun intended.
At the same time, he adds, the campaign can help Celestial Seasonings “reassert itself with the boomer consumer.”
The fact that the company had no visible advertising presence “for a long time” was beginning to harm the brand, Mr. Schoenberg says, as research showed “all these young people who aren’t really aware of Celestial.
Because “the quality of the tea and the practices of the company should be impressive to young people,” those points are being stressed in the new campaign, he adds.
The campaign is not seeking to jettison “the hippie past” of Celestial Seasonings, Mr. Schoenberg says, because the research found that it was a positive attribute among consumers.
That accounts for the ad making reference to the fair trade policies as well as a magazine ad invoking the founding of the company, which carries this headline: “Hiking boots, a botany textbook and an old pick-up. This was venture capital for a tea company in 1969.”
Still, “we want to be a contemporary brand,” Mr. Schoenberg says, hence the ads comparing Celestial Seasonings with the oh-so-popular specialty coffee drinks.
“Because the category is so competitive, we have to talk to as many consumers as possible,” he adds, “bringing in new consumers” while continuing to satisfy “the devoted consumer” who has bought Celestial Seasonings for many years.
“The tea consumer is very interesting,” Mr. Schoenberg says, because she “bounces from brand to brand.”
Even customers who are loyal to Celestial Seasonings are “promiscuous,” he adds, in that they will also buy other brands.
The print ads are appearing in magazines that in addition to More include Eating Well, Food & Wine, Health, Natural Health, Prevention and Real Simple.
There are also special ads being created for The New Yorker magazine. They include tiny ads for Sleepytime in the upper right corners of pages, which appear to be dog-eared as if the reader had stopped at that page to make a cup of tea.
The special New Yorker ads also include a pitch printed on the back side of the flaps attached to issues sold on newsstands promoting the contents inside.
“Here’s to magazine articles long enough to require a bookmark,” the ads proclaim above a cup of tea bearing the new Celestial Seasonings logo.
“I like that these ads are celebrating The New Yorker and not putting Celestial Seasonings first,” Mr. Schoenberg says.
“As we move forward, I hope the advertising becomes less and less like advertising,” he adds.
Would that we could all take tea and see that.
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