#BrandSaga: Brooke Bond Red Label – 115 years of brewing togetherness and shattering stereotypes

Brooke Bond Red Label advertising journey
Brand Saga

Making tea a catalyst for bridging gaps between races & communities – the Brooke Bond Red Label advertising journey has been nothing but extraordinary.

In the year 2016, when Brooke Bond Red Label created India’s very first transgender band ‘6 Pack Band’ with an aim to create a holistic society, the country couldn’t have been prouder. The century-old brand began talking about breaking stereotypes when it was still a taboo to discuss topics challenging the social psyche of consumers back home. Red Label took the risk and how.

Six Pack Band’ went on to bag the highest creative recognition – Cannes Grand Prix the same year it was released. The rest, as they say, is history.

From depicting family values, togetherness and Bonds created over a cup of tea to redefining ‘inclusiveness’ to handling backlash and trolls with ease – our this week’s Brand Saga pays ode to Brooke Bond Red Label’s hundred plus years journey of brewing ‘swaad apnepan ka’.

Brooke Bond Red Label sets foot

In 1903, Brooke Bond launched Red Label in British India and it truly changed the way people consume tea. Brooke Bond Red Label claims to have worked to create one of India’s most favorite beverage ‘chai.’ With Red Label to bring people together over a tasty cup of tea, Red Label Natural Care to enhance immunity and Red Label Dust for greater equality with strength and rich colour -Brooke Bond Red Label has only grown, as HUL to beat Tata Global Beverages with its share of just over 21% compared to Tata’s 20.6% in the three months ending January 2018.

Brooke Bond’s advertising journey can be penned down in two phases where it traversed from banking on the rational approach and slowly taking the emotional route, redefining inclusivity, some that of breaking stereotypes and societal norms.

Phase I: The ‘Product’ Driven Advertising

In it’s earlier communication, Brooke Bond Red Label, like any other brand in the category, focused on family values and bonds created over a ‘cup of chai’. It was a hard product selling proposition set back then.

Brooke Bond Red Label claims to have been standing for making the world a more welcoming place which also reflected in its communication over the years.

HUL positioned Red Label as a tension diffuser to bring people closer and work as an ice breaker. Various reports claim that Red Label’s advertising has particularly stood out for its clear and strong messaging.

From Piyo Toh Jaano to Jiyo Mere Lal to Pyaar Ka Pyaala to Swad Apnepan Ka – the brand flourished.

Integrating elements of affordable pricing, animated cartoons, and music in their advertisements to attract consumer attention, Brook Bond Red Label embarked on the journey to becoming a trendsetter back then.

It identified people’s love and connection for music very early and therefore also roped in Suresh Wadkar to give the background score while narrating a love story.

Brook Bond Red Label as a Natural Healer

In 2009, Brooke Bond added one more feather to its tea Red label variant by introducing Red Label Natural Care to the consumers. And the communication followed what they stood for through the product.

Later, in 2010 the tea giant brought on board Anupam Kher to lead it’s thought of health and fitness while consuming tea as a part of its relaunch strategy. Through this, Red Label aimed at revealing the fact that it is a blend of tea leaves, rich in natural flavonoids which give Red label its great taste and color.

Further in 2012, leveraging the jabra Jodi from Rowdy Rathore – Akshay Kumar- Sonakshi Sinha, Brooke Bond Red label roped in the duo to take the brand message ‘‘Swast rahein, mast rahein’ to the masses’ and launched the Red Label Health Challenge.

Phase 2- That of breaking stereotypes and standing for a cause  

While the causevertising wave was yet to hit the ad world and Tata Tea was already creating ripples with it’s ‘JaaGo Re’ campaign, Brooke Bond Red Label was quick to identify the gaps in its communication and decided to address issues that were yet to find their place in normal societal conversations. It all started in 2014 when the brand went onto showcase how a ‘cup of chai’ can break barriers and bring people together of different religions.

The TVC directed by Sainath Chaudhary was conceptualized by Ogilvy India. Abhijit Avasthi, former National Creative director, Ogilvy India shared in reports that most of the brand’s previous campaigns talked about bringing family members together, this time the idea became more encompassing. It was about bringing people across communities together.

The second campaign from the house of Red Label targeted the youth and highlighted the concept of live-in relationship and how important it is for parents to be open-minded with changing times.

Also Read: #BoycottHindustanUnilever trends against HUL’s Red Label #ApnoKoApnao Campaign

A Livemint report quoted HUL’s Shiva Krishnamurthy saying, “The Swad Apnepan Ka campaign has given us great results on brand users, salience and equity besides the numerous accolades it has won (including Cannes Grand Prix). People have resonated with our inclusiveness mission. Being the oldest brand in a mature and universally penetrated category like tea, its biggest marketing challenge is to break the clutter in an increasingly connected world.”

The year 2015 saw Red Label joining hands with ‘Piku’ starring Deepika Padukone and Amitabh Bachchan – whilst promoting the movie and announcing a meet and greet with the stars over a cup of tea.

Then came the path-breaking creation fo India’s first transgender band – Six Pack Band where the purpose was to encourage people to be more inclusive and accepting, irrespective of culture, gender, and other differences. “We see this (6 Pack Band 2.0 campaign) as a delightful way to urge people to shed ignorance and inhibition and learn to accept everyone as they are irrespective of any ability or disability,” stated Shiva Krishnamurthy, general manager – beverages, Hindustan Unilever in an interview.

The band thereafter went onto win many accolades nationally and internationally. The team at Mindshare Fulcrum, Y-Films and Brooke Bond Red Label took it ahead creating many more versions of the band roping in popular faces such as Hrithik Roshan, Karan Johar, Arjun Kapoor, Sonu Nigam, Neha Kakkar, Vishal Dadlani, and Tiger Shroff.

Two bits on behind the scenes as mentioned in an Economic Times report, Y-Film’s scouts were deployed everywhere, from traffic signals and trains to NGOs. At several points during the audition, casting directors and Patil reached breaking point while trying to weed out phoneys – “strugglers from Yari Road” who posed as hijras for a shot at fame. It took months to find the six band members. The video has raked in 2.3 million views to date on YouTube.

Also Read: Red Label campaigns that broke stereotypes with storytelling

Banking on the Digital prowess

It was now time for the Television centric brand to prove it’s mettle on digital. ‘Storytelling’ became the talk of the town. ‘Apno Ko Bhul Jaana Sabse Badi Bimari Hai’, touted as a commendable thought then came from Brook Bond Red Label’s ‘T For Togetherness’ and ‘Forgotten’ ad campaign which talks about a neurological disease Alzheimer’s and preached the consumers to welcome people suffering from the disease with open hearts and not abandon them.

The minute-long ad was an extension of the same thought ‘Swaad Apnepan Ka’ and how people suffering from this disease face social alienation.

Taste of Togethernesswith with Free Ki Chai

Can a conversation over tea break deep-rooted prejudices? In its short film and activation, Brooke Bond Red Label tried to explore and \change the perception about escorts being “bad” humans, but at the end of the day, they are also hardworking individuals just like all of us.

‘Breaking Barries’ with The Better India

What formed the insight for Brooke Bond Red Label’s 2018 campaign of ‘Breaking Barriers’ was with the turn of the millennium, the Indian society has grown to accept and be inclusive of diversity and yet certain stereotypes still remain intact. The erosion of such stereotypes from the minds of the Indian audience was one of the core objectives of the campaign. The brand partnered with ‘The Better India’ where they worked jointly over a period of five months and handpicked stories of people having each other’s back no matter what. Stories of people willing to face all societal challenges to support what they believe is right.

Some stories evoke laughter; a few make you shed a tear. But then there are stories that can inspire a billion people to…

Posted by TheBetterIndia on Wednesday, 18 October 2017

A remote settlement in Punjab is #BreakingBarriers to celebrate the spirit of togetherness. Find out what makes it truly unique. Visit- https://youtu.be/9VeBvI77WHs

Posted by TheBetterIndia on Friday, 27 October 2017

It is indeed challenging to integrate the product proposition into the narrative with a right social message, Brooke Bond Red Label has managed to keep it as the center goal and weave conversations through its campaigns over the years.

Through series like #Unsterotype touching topics like stereotyping the roles of a woman, Dwarfism and racial discrimination to raising concerns about inbound prejudices in the Indian society, Brooke Bond Red Label leveraged the digital platform to instill the progressive thought among its consumers being ‘BOLD’ and challenging societal norms.

Brooke Bond Red Label and Star Sports too joined forces to bring together Indian cricketer Venkatesh Prasad and Pakistani cricketer Aamer Sohail to break barriers over a cup of tea during the India-Pakistan Asia Cup in 2018.

As India celebrated its 70th Republic Day this year, Brooke Bond Red Label joined hands with Prime Focus Technologies to overcome prejudices and break down barriers of racial bias across the nation. The campaign throws light on discrimination towards Indians from the Northeast.

Summing up the brand journey, Bhaskar Sitholey, Vice President, Creative Services, Prime Focus Technologies said,“Brooke Bond Red Label ads have always been a slice-of-life representation about bringing families or communities together over a cup of perfectly brewed chai. What really stands out for me is the spirit of inclusiveness that shines through in each of the topics they have touched upon – from highlighting special family ties and everyday situations to broader nationally relevant subjects like Hindu – Muslim unity, live-in relationships, and their digital campaign #Unstereotype while using ‘chai’ as an ice-breaker or conversation starter.

In March 2019 Brooke Bond Red Label was criticized on social mediafollowing the company’s tweet referred to Kumbh Mela as a place where elderly people get abandoned by their family members. This resulted in a severe backlash in the form of an adverse hashtag trending on Twitter ‘#BoycottHindustanUnilever.

Although Brooke Bond Red Label has always maintained to be a TV -First brand, with the digital revolution in pace, the brand aims to thrive in the space with thought-provoking stories and causes.

Brooke Bond Red Label in its ‘BOLD’ avatar has shattered stereotypes and did not budge form taking enough risks to do good for the society while continuing its long-standing mission of bringing people closer…



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