Tang cruised through the Western coast to find its place on the Indian land years ago. This week, we explore the Tang advertising journey imbibing flavored commercials with a dash of quirk.
While Rasna paved its way into our summertime childhood memories in the 90s, Tang became a part of most of our growing up years later. The foreign product that had scientific beginnings went onto become a conventional powdered drink in the world market. We take a look at the Tang advertising journey on the Indian shores where it decided to take on the majors and create its own niche in the desi market.
‘Tang’ – A scientific invention?
It is said that the General Foods Corporation food scientist William A. Mitchell formulated an artificially flavored drink mix, Tang, in 1957 and kickstarted its marketing in the powdered form in 1959.
Another story that goes by is that the sale of Tang only started booming when NASA used it on John Glenn‘s Mercury flight in February 1962, and on subsequent Gemini missions where 4 astronauts, in 1964, reportedly brought Tang along on their mission and manned space flights for the next 10 years.
In 1968, Tang was advertised as the ‘Life Support system of an Apollo astronaut’ and sponsored TV coverage of America’s first man flight around the moon, Apollo 8.
Adding to the bizarreness was the 1995 advertising campaign that introduced Tang as the famous orang-utan ‘spokes-character’.
Since then, Tang has been closely associated with the U.S. human spaceflight program, which created the misconception that Tang was invented for the space program. This way the Tang advertising journey has been quite amusing and interesting internationally.
The brand is currently owned by Mondelez International, and is available in more than 30 countries spanning Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.
Tang Enters India
Over the years, companies like Kraft kept experimenting with many forms of Tang by lowering the sugar content, adding artificial sweeteners, and sometimes also advertising it as the lower-calorie Tang.
Finally, Tang forayed in India in the powdered beverage category, taking on the already popular ‘Rasna’ in 2001. However, Tang started getting officially distributed during 2005 by third party distributors. Despite being a late entrant into the category, Tang rolled its sleeves to go head-on with the ‘popular lots’ and tried to change the brand imagery positioning itself as a premium yet affordable and easily accessible product.
During 2010-11, Mondelez (then Cadbury India) in collaboration with Kraft Foods (demerged later) took over the reins and started local manufacturing of Tang.
Advertising & Marketing ‘Tang’ Tales
Summer was and will always be incomplete without the consumption of chilled, flavored juices wherein every refrigerator houses at least one powdered juice or a ready to drink beverage. Later Tang entered the segment and Mondelez India took a rather simple route to market a foreign product by leveraging traditional TV and print advertising.
Although to spread the word and reach out to a maximum number of people at one time, the company got onto the roads for some fun outdoor activity in malls and hypermarkets like Big Bazaar, HyperCity, Reliance, et al. With an aim to reinvent and reinforce the experience of having a Tang, which was pegged as the billion-dollar, powdered beverage brand in the company’s portfolio, Mondelez stationed dummy rocket men in malls to surprise visitors with a glass of Tang.
When it launched a thick, pulpy mango version of Tang in India in 2012, it carried out a similar activity at various hypermarkets in metros like Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Pune, and Bangalore where the men were positioned to promptly whip out a glass and pour a drink for the consumers passing by. The activity was hailed as a sixer by brand custodians then where they stated that the only mantra for brands in this category was to create constant product innovation to sustain and build the excitement around the brand.
Tang was marketed as the fresh, fruit-flavored drink available in a variety of flavors – based on local consumers’ preferences – and was fortified with minerals and vitamins. The commercials also sent out a message that the drink is available both as a powdered beverage and in ready-to-drink bottles with Vitamin C as the most common ingredient in addition to iron and zinc.
Targeting the kids and their mothers, the TVCs showcased how the children can benefit from Tang and relish it throughout the summer.
In 2012, the ‘Recycle’ TVC conceptualized by Bates Asia for Tang garnered the attention of many where the brand voiced for a social cause and went beyond product selling.
The campaign titled- “See no evil, Speak no evil and Hear no evil” portrayed how kids are environmentally conscious and they don’t shy away from making a difference to the society they live in. Subtly integrating the product, it showed how Tang keeps this goodness fresh in their mind and body.
A few commercials like ‘Bachchon Ka Khel’, by Bates CHI and produced by Code Red Films also depicted how kids can learn to be ‘Aatmanirbhar’ or self-dependent for specific work and should be taught so.
In 2017, by rolling out a thematic campaign titled ‘Maa Ke Haath Ka Pyaar’ for Ramadan, Tang tried to explore synergies between the festivities of Eid that the brand claimed resonates well with Tang’s brand proposition of bringing families together. With this, it stood in direct competition with age-old Rooh-Afza, the traditional red syrup served during the festivity.
Positioning Tang as the perfect beverage to the consumer after a day-long fast, the company aimed at spreading joy and happiness mounting for healthier relationships and bonds, thereby taking an emotional route and drive family consumption of Tang during the period.
‘The Tang Taste Challenge’ in the same year conceived by Bates CHI & Partners, introduced the ‘Litro pack’ that offers the ease and convenience of preparing a perfect glass of Tang through a ‘taste test’. The TVC showcased each member of the family rising up to the challenge by preparing what they think is the perfect glass of Tang.
Commenting on the campaign and the idea behind it, Anup Chitnis, Former Director, Bates CHI & Partners, had stated in a press release, “By reversing the roles inside a home in an interesting way that put the kids in charge, we have attempted to tell the story of Tang’s unique and delightful fruity taste.”
Tang further attempted to give a refreshing, convenient, and nutritious experience to mothers by providing them an opportunity to make a quick, refreshing drink with essential vitamins A, B, and C; and iron for their children by just adding water.
In these unprecedented times, when the world is locked up in their homes, Tang is presenting various recipes of smoothies, immunity punches, and ice pops for people to stay at home and simultaneously relish the joy of refreshed Tang menu.
Unlike many, Tang did not harp onto celeb brand endorsers for its advertising, rather took a pedestrian route to market itself on the country owning the space as the second major powdered drink after Rasna.
Tang on Digital
Quite lowkey on digital, Tang has its presence on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube where the brand can be seen announcing giveaway contests on festivities, leveraging moments of Dalgona Coffee with a celeb influencer and sharing quintessential recipes.
The brand also partners with celebrity chefs to showcase extraordinary recipes with Tang as the main ingredient.
Besides that, the social pages also boast of product expertise and specification creatives along with sharing information on on-ground activities like ‘Tang Carnival’.
Although, the Tang India advertising journey has been quite simple and conventional, the fact that the brand held the determination to stay on a foreign soil, holding up to its vision of making the category its own, is truly a remarkable feat.