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From then to now: How Tata Tea's communication has evolved from brand-led activism to hyperlocalisation
Some unheard stories behind Tata Tea’s Jaago Re campaign
Here is how Jaago re has evolved over the years

From then to now: How Tata Tea's communication has evolved from brand-led activism to hyperlocalisation

Here is how Jaago re has evolved over the years
  • When we say, ‘Jaago Re,’ do you also hum the entire tune?
  • Here is the saga behind one of the most loved social-led campaigns of our country that Sushant Dash, President, Beverages– India & Middle East, TATA Consumer Products, Amer Jaleel, Group CCO and Chairman, MullenLowe Lintas Group and Puneet Das – SVP, Marketing - Beverages, TATA Consumer Products walk us through.
Tata Tea, for more than a decade, has remained synonymous with brand-led activism because of its campaign Jaago re. Over the years, Jaago Re has nudged us towards social awakening. The brand has used this property to catalyse change around important issues like women safety, representation of women, voting, corruption, etc.

It was born in 2008 when Tata Tea decided to onboard MullenLowe Lintas as its agency on record for the brand. The campaign was launched at a time when Indian brands were still trying to understand the idea of brand activism and advertising in the tea category was limited to functional aspects of refreshment. Tata Tea started the trend of looking beyond the obvious by offering a tea that doesn’t just help you wake up, but also awakens you by focusing on self-actualization, increased civic consciousness and political awareness.

We reached out to the team (Sushant Dash, President, Beverages– India & Middle East, TATA Consumer Products, Amer Jaleel, Group CCO and Chairman, MullenLowe Lintas Group and Puneet Das – SVP, Marketing - Beverages, TATA Consumer Products) behind this initiative to pick their brains about this much talked-about campaign that continues to stay relevant even after all these years.
Play iconA circle surrounding a triangle pointing right. It indicates, "this type of media can be played."How Tata Tea's communication has evolved from brand-led activism to hyperlocalisation

Jaago Re helped a newly-launched premium brand become synonymous to the category. In the age of digital marketing, agency Lintas and Client Tata Tea Premium share one of the longest relationships in our industry. We also asked them to share a few tips of sustaining the relationship between client and agency, how to evolve with changing times and they didn’t disappoint.

The beginning of Jaago Re

The partnership of Lintas and Tata Tea started much before Jaago Re. It was in 2003 that the brand decided to foray into the premium segment by launching Tata Tea Gold. Back then, Lintas wasn’t in the picture. Tata Tea had a couple of agencies for its roaster but Dash, who Jaleel refers to as the ‘Architect of the brand,’ told us that they were looking to weave a story and build it on an insight this time, not just sell tea. The brand decided to go out and call a few more agencies in for a pitch. R Balki and Jaleel presented the ‘Na kahoge toh pachtaoge’ idea on a phone call to Dash, which he says, is his favourite till date.

Even then, Lintas was handling communication for Tata Tea Gold, not Tata Tea Premium. Rival tea brands with a variety of products had different campaigns for each but Dash decided to market only the mother brand. It had four sub-brands Gold, Premium, Agni and Life.

“From a marketing point of view, it was a risky decision and obviously came under a lot of debate. But at that time, the main reason from a business point of view was also that we needed to save our media monies. It was also very difficult to sustain and grow all four brands and put the kind of media monies that were required. So, the idea was that you create the mother brand, and then put more money behind the mother brand, advertising and campaign. The idea in the brief was that it should help each of the individual brands. It also said that we need to create a mother brand, which needs to connect at an emotional level and needs to cut through all the variants,” recalled Dash.

It also had to carve a niche for itself and beat the likes of HUL’s Brooke Bond Red Label and Taj Mahal, which had a strong recall for its ads, thanks to the famous Waah Taj ad featuring tabla maestro Zakir Hussain.

However, the brief didn’t mention anything about cause marketing or a social campaign. It was divided into three main objectives: establish the mother brand, cut across different verticals and get coffee-loving millennials to be loyal to tea.

Walking us through the brief and sharing the challenge that the agency had to face in terms of drafting a campaign for a diverse audience, Dash said, “The challenge for the creative agency was to find a cause that appeals to someone in a South Bombay or a South Delhi who uses Tata Tea Gold brand and at the same time, appeal to someone in a Pratapgarh who uses Tata Tea Agni brand because that was our width. We cut through urban and rural. So the third part of the brief was that when we talk and when we come out with this campaign, at least in terms of storytelling and in terms of the language that we use, it should appeal to the youth, because till that point Tea was seen as appealing only to the housewife, not so much to the youth or to men.”

At that time, coffee drinkers were considered ‘cool’ because tea was preferred by mid-age audience. As per the brief, Jaleel and his team had to reverse the image and also position tea drinkers as young and cool. The agency was right to think that the coming generation would actively participate in building an inclusive and woke society.

Recounting how the thinking came into place and how a tea brand chose a purpose-led brand building approach, Jaleel said, “Somewhere, this thought entered our mind that whenever you have a tea, you discuss various things, and you're young, and you want to change the world. And therefore, if tea is associated with changing the world like that, if it can bring about some kind of awareness, that would be a good strategic direction for tea and that's how we landed on the idea of Jaago Re.”

The client was looking for an idea that would bind different strata of society together and Lintas’ pitch ticked all the right boxes.

“I still remember when we first heard the line, 'Har subah sirf utho mat, Jaago Re.' It in some ways redefined and gave us that stature, because every tea brand and including us, we used to talk a lot about rejuvenation. But this was actually taking it in a sense philosophically a step ahead, which was not just about waking up, but awakening. So in some ways, it was very strongly ingrained in terms of what the category stood for, but took your brand to a higher plane,” shared Dash.

Taking the message ahead

The first ad under the campaign was about political awareness, voting the right candidate and asking questions. It featured Pankaj Tripathi, who wasn’t as well known then, but immediately won the audience over.

The second campaign was about a young guy who urges people to not use Voting Day as a holiday and nudge them from their sleep.

Jaago Re wasn’t just a campaign anymore. The brand knew how to walk the talk as the initiative was backed with a website Before the 2009 election, Tata Tea launched this website to help first-time voters to create IDs, register themselves as voters and find the nearest voting booth.

The Jaago Re campaign had become a big hit by 2010 and Lintas had to come up with a cause that would surpass the previous ads by creating something bigger. So, the third campaign was about corruption, which Dash said, was the most difficult to crack because they had to tread the line between being edgy and preachy.

In 2017, Tata Tea made a comeback with Jaago Re Version 2.0. Like always, it gave us goosebumps and made us question everything that was happening around us. It was a comment on arm-chair activism. It urged people to act before it is too late in a hard-hitting manner and it continues to stay relevant today.

Das said reviving a property of this stature wasn’t an easy task.

“Jaago Re is not just a marketing campaign for us, it's almost a clarion call for representing the right issues. The tenants of Jaago Re are so well set -- there has been a lot of consistency in the thought which has come across, which is about finding the right thing, inspiring people to make that change and walk the talk. In 2006, nobody had heard the word cause advertising and all this brand purpose is just flavor of the day. But at that time, for us, it was clutter breaking. Over the 10 years, many brands jumped into the bandwagon. More importantly, the entire new generation has also grown up expecting this now from brands. So it was no longer about armchair activism. So the idea was, how do you still stay consistent with the thought, but taking to the next level? Then this thought came about is that the key shift is from activism to pre-activism. Don't let things become issues. The real way to solve for them is to actually nip them in the bud and that shift in thinking is what we call Jaago Re 2.0,” said he.

Jaago Re and its perfect casting

Tata Tea’s Jaago Re was much ahead of its time. It shed various gender filters and brought a much-needed campaign that represented women in politics and sports. Lintas also had a good eye for budding talent. It featured Pankaj Tripathi, Swara Bhaskar, Mohammad Zeeshan Ayub, Anand Tiwari, to name a few, much before they had become names to reckon with in the industry.

Telling us the filter agency used for casting these actors, Jaleel said, “I think it's a coincidence that some of the great choices that we made also turned out to be great actors. But you can also say that it's no coincidence, and I'll tell you why it is that look. The approach that we always had about Jaago Re was always about realism. And if you notice, there is a wave of realism happening, you can almost track it back to the time Jaago Re started. Even in cinema, starism is going down and realism is coming in. We always had that thing about Jaago Re that we will pick up real people because we owe it to the subject that we are talking about. We looked for that realism in the auditions like that.”

In our episode of BTSWithInsiders, Jaleel had further shared the thought behind selecting Tripathi as their first protagonist, which can be found below:

Shifting focus to hyperlocalisation and connecting with consumers at a deeper level

Tata Tea has been successfully championing the style of brand-led activism. In the recent ads done by Mullen Lintas, there’s a visible shift in communication and Tata Tea is talking more about the features of its tea rather than the social angle. It is about taking pride in our regional culture and diversity.

So, at a time when rivals Red Label and Wagh Bakri are also talking about social change, what led to this shift?

Das answered, “Jaago Re has been a campaign for the mother brand and this hyper localization campaign that we have been doing is actually on the flagship brand Tata Tea Premium. What we are bringing out to consumers is something that is seeming like localization for them, but actually that has been one of the success DNA of the brand in the sense in a in a country where tastes and preferences especially when it comes to food etc, pretty much changes district by district -- it is very important for a beverage brand and a mass brand to understand these preferences, and and that has actually been always what already premium has been doing. It has blend across different states, which cater to the local tastes, preferences, etc. So, the idea was, how do you leverage your knowledge and your national stature as a brand, but at the same time connect and reinforce your regional expertise that has made you the brand it is.”

It has also launched packaging that is customised to different states of India and seen a good response from the consumers.

“In every market that we have been able to execute it so far, we have seen a big jump in terms of consumer connect, and it's also reflecting in the market shares, etc, which, at the end is also a proof of what the consumer has responded to, but yes, the shift is, is more to the consumers,” shared Das.

The Jaago Re campaign went on to create wonders for the brand and is still fresh in our minds like it was launched yesterday. And now, on connecting with its consumers on a local level and instilling regional pride, the brand is just getting started.