Tetley’s Teafolk as fresh as ever

Who, in 1973, dared to suggest that our favourite cuppa might be better brewed in a tea bag? Who in 1989 then persuaded us, for no apparent benefit, to swap our square tea bags for round ones? And who in 1997 launched the world’s first non-drip tea bag?

Gaffer, Sidney, Maurice, Clarence, Gordon, Archie and Tina did – the Tetley Teafolk. Over the past 25 years, the Tetley Teafolk advertising property has helped Tetley move from being a small brand, to brand leader.

In the late Sixties, tea bags held less than five per cent market share and the Tetley brand had two per cent share. Tetley was up against the chimps of PG Tips, brand leader since 1958. And Tetley’s tea bag was up against a British institution – loose tea, the tea pot and a strainer.

The Teafolk were originally conceived to establish the Tetley brand and popularise the previously unsuccessful teabag.

For over 13 years, the campaign depicted the Teafolk as symbols of diligent expertise and craftsmanship, demonstrating and explaining the “flavour floods out” benefits of “2000 perforations” in the tea bags. By the late Seventies, Tetley’s share had quadrupled. And by 1989, with continued support from the Teafolk, tea bags represented 80 per cent of the market and Tetley’s share had risen to 17 per cent, closer than ever before to PG Tips.

But their greatest achievement was to come in 1990, when they made tea drinkers feel so good about their newly launched round tea bags that Tetley went to the coveted number one position, breaking PG Tips’ stranglehold for the first time.

The Teafolk simply said: “The world is round, cups and saucers are round, so get a round tea bag in your cup.” The Teafolk sang the Beach Boys “I Get Around” and tea drinkers responded. Consumers, with proven advertising recall of the new launch, were significantly more likely to express a preference to buy (index 130), more likely to repeat purchase (index 124),and rate the brand higher on key image score, for example “gives more flavour” (index 125).

Following this success, the Teafolk moved up a gear, this time with the brief to sustain brand leadership and support a premium price over PG Tips. Since 1995, the Teafolk have associated the brand with the ultimate consumer benefit – tea’s ability to make you feel a change for the better. The “That’s Better. That’s Tetley” campaign, set to the music of popular songs, has allowed viewers to glimpse the private lives of the Teafolk. We’ve seen Maurice waking up first thing in the morning to a refreshing cuppa. We’ve seen Sidney coming home from a football defeat to a reviving cuppa. We’ve seen Gaffer finishing his ironing after a reinvigorating cuppa.

Tetley’s association with “a better frame of mind” has been stronger than PG’s and it has retained its brand leadership, despite the aggressive discounting and advertising investment for PG’s Pyramid bag launch.

The Teafolk have recently been demonstrating the benefits of their new non-drip Drawstring tea bag in the new “Stripper” ad. This DMB&B execution registered the highest ever awareness index score for a Tetley commercial (well over twice the Millward Brown average) and this in turn has created 83 per cent awareness for the new Tetley line extension.

The Tetley Teafolk campaign is the prime example of just how much one advertising idea can achieve if managed well, over time.

Company: Tetley GB

Client: John Nicholas, marketing director

Agency: DMB&B

Board account director: Tessa Latham

Account director: Guy Duncan

Account supervisor: Nicole Reid

Planning: John Poorta

Creative: Andy Powell/Oli Robinson

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