Larger than Life branding with “Jaago Re”

In June 2007, Tata Tea became the largest Tea Company in terms of volume and value in the world’s largest tea market – India. Up until then various tea brands were vying for consumer mind space with myriads of stories about how their tea had more strength, flavor, better leaves, or better rejuvenation qualities.

The marketing team of Tata Tea was very clear that to make the brand an unassailable leader in India, they would need to think on a different track. Tea is the largest consumption beverage drunk by 91% of all Indians irrespective of demographics, income and location. It is embedded in the DNA of every Indian citizen. Against this backdrop, we knew that the idea for promoting Tata tea had to be as large as that while retaining the essentials of rejuvenation and a strong wake-up cup! Despite being the challenger in the category, Tata Tea donned the mantle of category leadership. We went after the younger audience in an attempt to appeal to the smarter tea-drinkers of tomorrow.

The idea was to connect emotionally with the issues that drove the hearts, minds and souls of India’s young emerging social consciousness. Creative minds got together and the words “Jaago Re” popped up scribbled on the back of a paper napkin. The fit was perfect – make the cup that wakes you up, the cup that awakens you. The first set of communication focused on a variety of topics like the corrupt official, the policeman with no accountability and various others. The idea was to make the youth question the status quo around them and open their eyes to larger country-wide issues.

In 2008, the most pressing issue was the upcoming 2009 general election, which coupled with the fact that only 15% of the youth voted, was felt to be an unmissable opportunity for the marketing team at Tata Tea. The agenda was set – to get the youth of the country to vote.

But in order to be credible, a brand can’t just talk big. An agenda is of no use without any action. Thus began a game of guts, gumption and organizational prudence. Unseen to the consumer, a huge amount of back-end mechanisms were put in place to make Jaago Re real. A strategic tie-up was put in place with the NGO Janagraha, who, through making voter registration possible online, made the message granular with the aim of ‘1 billion votes’.

“Agar aap vote nahi kar rahe ho toh aap so rahe ho – Jaago Re” was the next big idea. As all good marketing campaigns should have, there were many on-ground extensions of the idea. An online map plotted the polling booths across 35 cities in India. Candidate credentials were highlighted via a series of hard hitting and witty films. The Jaago Re website received more than 28 lakh visitors, one fourth of whom eventually went on to vote in the general elections.

Through a keen focus on the end goal – category leadership – Tata Tea was able to launch a brand marketing strategy that had the feel of a social marketing initiative, the on-ground execution of an FMCG company, and the legacy of an iconic campaign. Jaago Re has become one of the best known cases in contemporary Indian marketing, and has helped Tata Tea usurp share from its arch rival Unilever for the first time since its inception. The brand made a real difference in consumer lives, one cup at a time.

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