Brand Saga: Wagh Bakri adding warmth to relations

Wagh Bakri Tea advertising journey

The third brand saga of the New Year takes a walk down the memory lane of Wagh Bakri Tea advertising journey, understanding what made the brand that is now, a 100 years later.

They say a cup of tea is like sharing great thoughts with great minds; here we are about to unroll the century-old saga of a tea brand people wake up to every morning. Wagh Bakri Tea recently celebrated its 100-year journey with a celebratory anthem and a calendar conceptualized by its agency of 5 years Scarecrow M&C Saatchi. While unraveling the Wagh Bakri Tea advertising journey – the brand that breathed the partition and is still running strong with more than 100 precious years we join the celebration with the quest to look back.

Tea in our Veins – The History

With an entrepreneurial mind, Shri Narandas Desai bought 500 acres of a tea estate in South Africa in 1892 and followed Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings.  There he learned the intricacies of cultivating and producing tea. However racial discrimination forced him to return to India with nothing but a few valuables and a certificate from Mahatma Gandhi for being the most honest and experienced tea estate owner in South Africa.

Shri Narandas Desai’s three sons Shri Ramdas Desai, Shri Ochavlal Desai, and Shri Kantilal Desai followed their father’s footsteps. Till 1980 Gujarat Tea Depot continued to sell tea in wholesale as well as retail through 7 retail outlets. Also, the first to recognize the need for packaged teas, the group launched Gujarat Tea Processors and Packers Ltd. in 1980. The company also started an office in Kolkata to oversee and check the purchase of tea at auction centers.

It was in 1934 that ‘Wagh Bakri’ brand was born. Before that, it was known as Gujarat Tea Depot Co. The company was renamed to Gujarat Tea Processors & Packers Ltd.

The corporate office of Wagh Bakri was inaugurated in 2006 and later operations were expanded to a cross array of key cities and states in India with multiple blends, variants, and formats.

Wagh Bakri Tea Advertising Journey

The brand started creating TVCs and promoting its range of Mili Tea in 2007 when it also started focusing on the marketing and expanding aspects of the brand.

The first TV commercial featured a family gathered to watch a cricket match where the Mili tea comes to rescue of the members when India is about to lose the match. The strategy here was to show how a cricket crazy country comes together to enjoy a cup of tea and watch the live matches together, therefore – ‘Wagh Bakri chai ‘Hamesha Rishta Banaye’.

Yet another commercial launched in the series to market the product on a larger scale this time connecting a guest’s appearance and the love for tea with a humorous touch.

In 2008, the company launched a nationwide campaign with the same tagline putting spotlight on building stronger bonds and relationships across.

It was also the year when Wagh Bakri Group tried to strengthen its footing by foraying into southern states as part of its growth strategy. To start with, the group mulled over introducing its flagship brand Wagh Bakri in Karnataka. In the INR 5,000 cr Indian branded industry then; Tata Tea enjoyed volume leadership while Hindustan Unilever had value leadership.

Brewing a National Plan

In 2011, the brand roped in actress Sakshi Tanwar as the brand ambassador and brewed a national plan opening its first tea lounge in the Capital. Wagh Bakri with a 7-8 percent market share then stood at the third spot behind HUL and Tata Tea. In the same year, it allocated INR 40-crore marketing budget including a TVC, traditional advertising with a large chunk on print as well with extensive BTL promotions.

Wagh Bakri ‘Rishton Ki Garmahat’

It was in the year 2015 that Wagh Bakri too latched onto the storytelling trend in advertising and joined hands with Scarecrow Communications (now Scarecrow M&C Saatchi) to connect with consumers on an emotional level. Slightly shifting from ‘Hamesha rishtey banaye’, the brand’s focus was now to soften the brand is its image on the beauty of relationships with the tea as a catalyst.

On Republic Day 2015, the brand rolled out launched a four-minute film ‘Rishton ki Garmahat’ which was was aired on select news channels over 100 times through specially created slots to accommodate the long film on Republic Day. Teasers were also aired on the same channels two days prior.

According to Business Standard, it was a first for a regional advertiser, to run a four-minute film during commercial breaks between 10 AM and 11 PM on 15 channels. The channels include Hindi and regional news channels, besides HD feeds of Hindi GECs. The total investment, including teasers on January 24 and 25 and the actual advertisement on January 26, was around INR 2 cr.

Wagh Bakri in 2015, controlled 80 percent of the Gujarat tea market and had a presence in 10 other states.

This film by Wagh Bakri Tea told the story of a husband-wife relationship. The ad was produced by Chrome Picture and won ‘Best Ad Film’ at the 5th Dada Saheb Phalke Awards held in 2015. 

Also Read: Brand Saga: Kaun Banega Crorepati Marketing Strategy that made reality shows a trend

Sakshi Tanwar’s tryst with Wagh Bakri Mili

In 2016, the company launched Mili Tea with improved blend quality and new attractive packs post extensive research concluding that consumers prefer the strong taste, appetising colour and aroma. The new Mili tea, while brewing, released its colorfast and gave cuppage appealing to housewives.

The rationale behind bringing on board Sakshi Tanwar was that she connected with every household in India – especially women, both, working and homemakers.

Wagh Bakri ‘Pehli Mulakat’

Tea, like a newspaper, is one of the most inertia-led categories. People are, by and large, comfortable with a particular brand of tea and are used to its taste. So, inducing a shift through advertising is a communications challenge. This 2016 marketing campaign from Wagh Bakri addressed this challenge by introducing a new brand asset, #PehliMulakat.

The campaign, conceptualised by Scarecrow Communications, was born out of a series of real conversations with people who shifted to Wagh Bakri Tea. It focused on the instances that led people to sample Wagh Bakri tea for the first time and the specific tea attributes that impressed them.

The three film campaigns that built up the first leg of #PehliMulakat portrays a Sardarji from Delhi, a Maharashtrian from Solapur and a corporate woman from Hyderabad.

‘Peeoge toh Janoge’

In 2018, focusing on the consumer-retailer relationship, Wagh Bakri’s  ‘Peeoge toh Janoge’ campaign conceptualised by DDB Mudra gave Sakshi Tanwar a whole new, rustic avatar.

The agency crafted the ad film with Sakshi playing a ‘local shop owner’ – one of the biggest influencers in the lives of grocery buyers in India. In her Haryanvi accent, Sakshi confidently advises a consumer to sample the tea as an exercise to prove its superior flavour, before mentioning its reasonable price.

The company that had an overall annual marketing budget of $2000 million in 2018, spent $45 million towards the Mili campaign, according to online reports.

Rishton ka Hi Fever

In 2018, the brand took on then trending video with #HiNahiChaiPilao as part of their communication theme Rishton ka Hi Fever. Conceptualised by Scarecrow M&C Saatchi, the film showcases a typical North Indian joint family with a cast that imbibes modern youthful India, and the older generations steeped in tradition.

While 2019 did not see an independent campaign for the brand but Wagh Bakri roped in Setu Advertising to promote their product – Dust Tea in Maharashtra.

In spite of tantalizing advertising history, the brand’s digital presence is rather restrictive. Wagh Bakri resorts two one or two posts in a month which are duplicated across platforms. The content consists of their products, commemorating important days, and wishes.

If you discount their digital leg, Wagh Bakri’s advertising journey has been remarkable, at least in terms of brand recall. Don’t believe us? Try saying ‘Wagh Bakri Chai’ without it being followed by ‘Humesha rishtey banaye’ from anyone around you.


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