CAMPAIGNS: Product Launch - Wacky promotion fits Lipton to a tea

Client: Lipton Cold Brew (Englewood Cliffs, NJ)

PR Team:LaForce & Stevens (New York)

Campaign:Human Teabag Tour

Time Frame: Summer 2001

Budget: $240,000

The first-ever automobile (or horseless carriage) was originally

dismissed as useless. Same for the phonograph, the steam engine for

trains, and countless other inventions. Put simply, creating convenience

for consumers quite often doesn't sell as easily as it should. And

that's just the problem Lipton encountered when it first introduced

Lipton Cold Brew, 100% natural iced tea that brews in cold water instead

of hot.


With the "Anywhere There's Water" ad campaign already running, Lipton

asked PR agency LaForce & Stevens to come up with a way of supplementing

the ads. "The goal was to make it more energizing," says Sheila

McCraith, brand assistance at Lipton International. "We wanted people to

think of iced tea in a new light."

That in mind, LaForce & Stevens needed to come up with an idea that

would "in a very fundamental way demonstrate the effectiveness of the

product - the unique consumer benefit," says partner James LaForce. But

it had to be done in a way that would show people that Cold Brew wasn't

only advantageous, but something they'd want to buy.


At an agency brainstorming meeting, Lesley Stevens, LaForce's partner,

offered up the idea of dressing up morning TV anchors in a giant teabag

suit, and dropping them in a clear vat of cold water. "We all rolled our

eyes," LaForce recalls. And despite the fact that the agency already had

much of the equipment it needed from a prior internal Lipton event,

LaForce says, "It all seemed like a logistical nightmare. But it created

such a funny image that we realized it could really work."

"We definitely had confidence," says McCraith. "The question was is it

as big as we think it can be. But talking to LaForce, it was hard not to

believe it. You just don't normally see someone dressed in teabags."

Relying on that truism, the agency started by sending still pictures and

videotapes to news outlets. But they weren't necessarily buying it right

away. "They did need convincing because it was so quirky and different,"

McCraith claims. "But once we did the first two, sending the videotapes

to the other stations made it easy. They thought this was a great thing

for a weatherman to do."

"People really got off on the idea of getting to humiliate their

anchors," says LaForce. "It was lighthearted, fun, interactive, and

silly, and in a clear visual sense showed that the water changes color

before your eyes. You see it instantly."

McCraith even saw it firsthand, as she donned the human teabag outfit on

CBS' The Early Show, and she even drank the tea from her dunking. "It

was as refreshing as can be," she claims. "What's more, it looked like I

had a self tan for a day." But for the most part, onlookers didn't drink

the tea made by the human teabags. "We made pitchers of tea at every

location and handed it out, along with boxed samples. Otherwise, it's

kind of gross," LaForce says (even though McCraith would likely



The sheer fun of the human teabag segment usually had it running well

over its allotted airtime.

"CBS was supposed to be really tight, like a minute forty-five, and

ended up being seven minutes," McCraith recalls. "That was the magic of

the whole thing." Of course, McCraith also attributes some of that

"magic" to the summer being slow for news, as well as the fact that the

campaign came during a heat wave. Nevertheless, the human tea-bag was

featured in a 30-minute segment on Good Day New York, as well as on

CNBC, and local morning shows in San Diego, Houston, Dallas, Boston, and

Arizona. Lipton also claims an increase in sales since the campaign, as

well as positive feedback from consumers.


LaForce says he hopes to work with Lipton again, adding that he believes

everyone was happy with the results of the campaign. "We are talking to

them about other ideas," says McCraith. "They're a very creative group

of people."

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