Posted by: | 17th Mar, 2011

Tetley’s new ads – not my cup of tea

If you wait for the Skytrain every morning, chances are that you have noticed the odd ads for Tetley Colour Therapy Herbal Tea at the Skytrain stations. The only way I can describe my reaction to them is … confused, and taken back at why they would advertise Herbal Tea in such a way that elicits imagery of unappetizing items (such as damp socks).

Allow me to explain – these ads feature the product, a can of Tetley Colour Therapy Herbal Tea, in the colour in the same family as the colour of the can, and each features slogans such as:

– “Damp Socks go well with Orange” for the orange coloured can named “Warmth”
– “Inarticulate speaker announcements go well with purple” for the purple coloured can of tea named “Clarity”
– “Uncovered Sneezes go well with Yellow” for the yellow coloured can named “Cleanse”.

I couldn’t find these ads online, so I did my best (using my limited Paint skills) to recreate one of the ads.

Referring to our current studies on Integrated Marketing Communications – this ad fits in the “awareness” aspect of the AIDA Model – we notice the ad, its bright colours and its odd slogans. But the ad does not generate interest in or desire for the product, and does not motivate us to buy the product. Rather, it evokes feelings of confusion and criticism for its choice of words. Tetley encoded its message to try to elicit interest in its new line of teas and show consumers that Tetley Colour Therapy Herbal Teas has a colour to fit everyone, every mood – but consumers did not decode it the way that the company intended them to, for these reasons:

1) The moods/situations presented in these slogans (i.e. damp socks, inarticulate speaker messages) have a negative overtone – with situations that you’d encounter if you’re having a bad day. Messages with a negative overtone will not easily elicit motivation to buy the product. Instead, they could have focused on how there’s a colour for every personality by using positive, inspirational imagery/wording.

2) The situations in these ads are not easily relatable/understandable – the concepts presented are not clearly related: i.e. the Purple ad is trying to say, “drink this tea called Clarity when you are annoyed by inarticulate speaker messages”. The message is neither compelling nor completely logical.

3) The imagery presented is off-putting – the practice of putting the word “damp socks” and “uncovered sneezes” in an ad for Herbal Tea is questionable.

I looked further into their website – their message to introduce this new line of herbal teas is:

For every mood,
Every emotion,
Every State of Mind,
There’s a colour
That’s right for you.

The website then redirects us to an interactive interface where we have to option to find our colour through a Colour Therapy survey; look at other people’s colours and their comments on why that colour fits them, or visit their Facebook page.

Tetley is doing a good job in intergrated marketing communications on their website – personalizing the experience by choosing a tea based on the customer’s mood, preferences, and personality. From Yellow-Cleanse (lemon & honey) to Pale Green – Soothe (ginger & mint), customers are already raving about its range and taste in online reviews.

However, if the Skytrain ads (read by thousands of people everyday) continue to be displayed, perhaps it will risk losing some of its prospective customers.


Great article! Thank you for sharing with you @mzou

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