Not my cup of tea

I realised long ago that I’m rarely the smartest person at the design table. More often than not it’s a copywriter that brings the wit, clarity and incisive thinking. After all, their world is communication in its purest form. What do we want the person who reads our crafted characters to take away? How do we want them to feel? To behave? And react?

So when I stumble across something like the new campaign for Lipton tea I wonder where it all went wrong. Because sat underneath the familiar Lipton’s logo was a line that I don’t remember seeing before, – ‘be more tea’.

be. more. tea.

Now, terrible straplines are nothing new (apparently this one was written in 2014), and there are plenty of articles out there that vent their frustrations all too well, the always sharp Nick Asbury wrote a belter. But when someone messes with my national drink I can’t stay silent.

be. more. tea.

Is that meant to be uplifting or some kind of veiled threat? And what exactly are the characteristics of tea they want me to be?… Warm? Milky? Sweet? Stewed?

The trend of the faux lifestyle sentiment misses the point of a strapline – if the logo is the visual shorthand, then the strapline is the personality shorthand. At its best it should embody the brand, it then has the potential to be that enduring earworm, fondly remembered and repeated.

Tea seems to be one of the few categories that still achieves some form of brand loyalty. Over the years this has given the market leaders the room to inject a little personality in their tone of voice:

You only get an ‘OO’ with Typhoo.
That’s better, that’s Tetley’s.
Let’s have a proper brew!

The broader FMCG market has been peppered with classics that bring a brand personality to life. They understand and reflect exactly what makes their product unique:

Beanz Means Heinz
For a hard earned thirst
It’s finger lickin’ good
Slip Slop Slap

Some straplines are so deeply ingrained in a company’s culture that they are almost inseparable. John Lewis, the UK department store, have used the line ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ since 1925. At its most basic it is a way of explaining their price promise. But it is so much more than that, it represents their commitment to service and transparency, a purpose and a promise that has endured as long as the line.

I’m sure ‘be more tea’ meant something to someone. Perhaps it resonated with the marketing manager, or maybe the focus group thought is was cool, who knows? Perhaps I’m just missing the point, or perhaps I’m just not the target market – after all, if it’s not Yorkshire it’s just not a proper brew!