Red Rose resurrects brand with funeral spot

According to a Southam News report, Copps would explain to the elderly rocker that he couldn't have a star on the Walk because he wasn't Canadian. His scripted reply: "Only in Canada, you say? Pity."...

According to a Southam News report, Copps would explain to the elderly rocker that he couldn’t have a star on the Walk because he wasn’t Canadian. His scripted reply: "Only in Canada, you say? Pity."

Mick, of course, wouldn’t have got the joke. But there are precious few Canadians over the age of 15 who could possibly have missed the reference. The "Only in Canada …" line, which was employed in television spots for Red Rose Tea for more than 20 years, is arguably one of the best-known and most beloved slogans in this country’s advertising history.

Still, time takes its toll on all things – pop stars and advertising concepts alike. Which is why Red Rose has, at last, retired its famous tagline.

With no television support for several years, and an image that had grown increasingly staid, Red Rose was beginning to lose its bloom, says Mike Welling, vice-president, brand development for Toronto-based Lipton Canada.

"As nice as it was to say ‘Only in Canada’ and sell it as the Canadian brand of tea, the advertising and the brand identification was a little less relevant to people," he says. "It was coming across as a bit older, British and stuffy."

To counteract this, Lipton launched a campaign in February that introduces a new positioning for Red Rose.

The new tagline for the brand is "A cup’ll do you good" – a slogan that Welling says reflects the role that tea plays in people’s lives.

Television is the primary medium for the campaign, which was created by Toronto-based J. Walter Thompson. The first of the spots began airing in February, and will run through the spring.

Welling says the advertising plays on the idea that "a cup of tea helps to facilitate conversation." The new television spot, for example, takes place at a funeral, where the wife of the deceased sits weeping. When a priest appears with a tray of Red Rose and offers some to "Mrs. Wright," she pipes up in reply – as does the woman sitting next to her. Soon the two Mrs. Wrights are sharing a cup of tea, and trading notes on the late Mr. Wright.

Lipton did considerable research before setting out to give Red Rose a face-lift. From this, they learned that consumers associate tea-drinking with bonding.

"People find tea to be an icebreaker," says Rick Kemp, senior vice-president, creative director with J. Walter Thompson. And if any brand is capable of owning that territory, it’s Red Rose.

While the brand may have adopted a new positioning, it hasn’t abandoned its sense of pride in being Canadian. The second spot in the series, which will begin airing in summer or early fall, features a World War Two veteran from Canada visiting a former battlefield in France. There, he meets a German counterpart. After an awkward moment, the Canadian breaks the ice by offering a box of Red Rose. "It’s Canadian," he says. In return, our hero is handed a set of keys – "It’s German" – and the spot ends with him driving happily away in a new Mercedes-Benz.

Kemp says this spot trades on the brand’s Canadian heritage, and reflects the same wry sense of humour that has long been part of the Red Rose character.

While the original "Only in Canada…" campaign relied almost entirely on television, today the brand is employing multiple media channels in an effort to reach its target audience.

"It’s a cluttered marketplace out there, and we have to find more ways to reach our consumer," says Matt Scholes, vice-president, management director with J. Walter Thompson.

With this in mind, Red Rose is supporting the TV advertising with a print campaign, running mainly in women’s magazines. The full-page ads downplay the humour, focusing instead on the warmth and simplicity of tea, and its role as a conversation catalyst.

In addition, Lipton has redesigned the brand’s packaging, and launched a Red Rose Web site,

Karen Kilcullen, tea brand manager at Lipton, says the Web site is lifestyle-oriented, offering recipes, gardening tips and even a recommended reading list (since many people enjoy a mug of tea while relaxing with a good book). Visitors can also join the brand’s "Time for Tea" club and receive a free set of Red Rose note cards for filling out an online questionnaire.

Lipton has taken Red Rose into other media, Kilcullen says, because it’s important to reach consumers wherever they may be – and not all of them are guaranteed to be found in front of the TV anymore.

Still, television remains central to the brand’s media strategy. No other avenue, says Welling, would enable Red Rose to forge the same kind of emotional bond with consumers.

Also in this report:

- Shorter formats a double-edged sword: By opting for spots of 15 seconds or less, advertisers can stretch their advertising dollar — but they may also be contributing to the problem of clutter p.TV1

- CCM arouses interest with sperm spot p.TV4

- Painting the smaller canvas: How creatives make their mark in 15 seconds or less p.TV4

- Ford Focus puts the squeeze on credits: Sponsored previews of top-rated shows in bid to give campaign added impact p.TV8

- Jetta campaign a brand-new love story: Automaker bids farewell to popular Phil and Loulou characters p.TV10

- Is TV worth the money? p.TV12

- BTV blurs line between editorial, advertorial: Companies featured on business show pay about $10,000 for repackaged material p.TV13

From Karen Howe’s dining table: Creativity, COVID and Cannes

ICYMI, The Township's founder gathers the best of the best campaigns and trends so far.

Cannes Base Camp

By Karen Howe

I’m attending Cannes from the glory of my dining room table. There’s not a palm tree in sight, yet inspiration and intel are present in abundance.

Cannes Lions is a global cultural pulse check. The social course correction in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and BLM has delivered far greater diversity in the judging panels as well as the work. And we are all better for it.

I’m proud to say that creativity defeated COVID, which speaks to its power. Great work and big ideas flourished, despite unimaginable odds.

The work from the past two years spans a vast emotional range. From the profundity of Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” to the hyper exuberance of Burberry’s “Festive,” they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but each answered a need in us.

Take note, the ascendency of gaming cannot be understated. Smart brands have embraced the channel. It makes sense, because gamers participate to meet others around the world, not just to play. And they represent a huge and powerful community. That’s why QSR Wendy’s gamified their iconic gal in RPG’s Feast of Legends.

Burger King sponsored the unknown Stevenage Football Club, transforming the team into online heroes and vaulting BK into the fray at the same time. Once again, the brand embedded itself in culture.

The birth of gaming tourism arrived when Xbox snuggled up to travel guides and created a brilliant baby: a travel guide for gaming worlds. It, too, embedded itself in culture.

From the standpoint of social good, Reporter Without Borders showed how it worked with Mindcraft for its “Uncensored Library” to bypass press censorship, with Minecraft providing a loophole to a space where young people could be educated. It provided youth with a powerful tool to fight oppression: truth.

COVID changed us in unexpected ways. We learned how to pay attention again and there was a notable lack of 30-second commercials. Instead, longer format content thrived. Apple’s WFH was seven minutes long. Entertainment reigned king, so we find ourselves returning to our advertising roots.

Seeing competitive brands form partnerships was one of this year’s other great surprises. The brilliantly simple “Beer Cap Project” by Aguila to reduce binge-drinking saw the brand reach out to competitive beers to join in. Aguila put incentivizing (keyword: free) reminders to drink water, eat food and get home safely on its bottle caps from all sorts of fast food chains, ride-share co’s and H2O brands.

On a personal level, I’m so proud of Canada again this year. Given that it was two years of work from all over the world being judged, even making the Cannes shortlist was an accomplishment. Canada is herding in the Lions in tremendous numbers – and it’s not even over. Fingers are crossed.

KAREN-HOWE-PIC-higher-rez-300x263Karen Howe is a Canadian Cannes Advisory Board Member and founder of The Township Group