The new animation for Twinings Tea in the UK, created for AMV BBDO by Psyop, signals a familiar, successful, but underexploited approach in image-making associated with tea. Even without a strapline, images of people, mostly women, drinking tea, are a signifier of calm, inwardness, a moment stepping away from the weight of personal and professional demands.
The image of tea has come a long way, especially in the UK where one of the most famous, long-running advertising campaigns featured tea-drinking monkeys. Images of tea now pitch not only to an entirely different audience, but to an entirely different person. Images of tea in advertising talk to the soul, and if some recent ads are to go by not just the personal soul, but the nation’s soul.
The Twinings ad, aimed largely at women, suggests that their tea, “Gets You Back To You”, is a cupful of instant therapy. Tea helps you step out of the whirlwind, an idea charmingly executed for Lipton’s ‘light’ Green and White tea. The idea of ‘lighter taste’ is really a signal for something deeper – tea gets you high. Spiritually speaking.
Not to be outdone on the significance of tea, in 2010 Honest Tea ran a campaign in seven US cities, setting up kiosks on streets with bottles of tea freely available, with a request for payment of a dollar. The campaign got a huge amount of media coverage, as it sought to compare the honesty of the different cities through the stats of how many people paid. Hidden cameras filmed people’s responses and in the ongoing media rush Tea became a sign of social citizenship, of how committed we are to shared values of honesty and community.
At a time of ongoing uncertainty and protest, the image of the individual drinking tea has become a powerful sign of individual balance, calm and, unsually, social empathy.