Brooke Bond India Limited – Taj Mahal tea bags

Until the mid 1980’s, tea bags were largely purchased by the HORECA sector for out of home consumption by consumers. At around that time, instant coffee had begun making inroads in major cities of India’s TDA’s (Tea Drinking Areas – mainly North, East and West India), both in-home and out of home.

Research initiated by Brooke Bond India’s advertising agency, JWT (then HTA) Bangalore, revealed inhibitors to tea consumption at in-home social occasions, mainly cumbersome preparation, and then disposal. While such households were aware of the ease of preparation of tea bags, they felt awkward in disposing of the tea bag – especially in social settings. Further, tea bags were perceived to be inferior in strength to brewed (leaf) tea. Instant coffee powder, on the other hand, offered a win-win alternative.

JWT then designed a campaign to re-position Taj Tea Bags for young, urban working couples in social occasions at home, with a TVC that simply showed the correct etiquette for disposing of tea bags in a social setting, as well as the fact that infusion time could be varied to suit varying preferences in terms of liquor strength.

Although Darjeeling tea (in tea bags) was the preferred alternative, Brook Bond, at that time, did not feel confident of the burst strength of tea bags when filled with leaf tea. So Taj Mahal, which is a CTC blend, was used instead.

Result: Adoption of TMTB in urban went up dramatically within a few months of launch, and stayed there for years. More important, Lipton, then a rival, was blocked from this segment, and eventually acquired Brooke Bond. As a matter of interest, even today, three decades after the campaign, tea in tea bags is referred to as “Dip, Dip, Dip” by consumers and restaurant staff across India. This term originates from the key phrase in the jingle of TVC referred to above.

(Manoj Berry, Embrand’s founder, was the Account Director of the JWT team that managed Brooke Bond India Limited’s marketing communications from 1985 to 1987)