Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

For the love of chai

Updated Apr 05, 2017 05:51pm
Why dissing chai – practically considered the national drink – in ad campaigns is always, always a bad idea.

Ok I’m done!

I’m seriously so done with all this chai bashing. First it was a particular coffee brand foolishly making fun of and potentially pissing off the majority of this country – who are chai drinkers – and now it’s a beverage mistakenly assuming that just because chai is hot, its consumption will go down.

Really, who is doing the research at these places? Because it’s clearly not someone who understands Pakistanis or the significance of chai in our lives. Chai isn’t just a hot drink. It’s a concept. An experience.

But before I dig deeper, here’s the TVC I’m talking about:

Chai is the fuel that gets you going in the morning. It’s the ice breaker when guests arrive. It’s the mediator when two people are having an intense discussion and it’s the vague excuse used to prolong a good moment; “more chai?” Chai is a sign of respect shown to you by a shopkeeper when you enter their shop, and it’s literally the cultural symbol for acceptance. If you have been offered chai by someone, you know you are someone they approve of.

That’s a lot of emotional investment Pakistanis have with chai, and we haven’t even gotten to the point that it tastes amazing when it’s made YOUR way, and how it gives you just the right nudge of energy, comfort and motivation to take on the day.

So, a few months ago, Nescafe suddenly decided it wanted in on that chai consumer market. And obviously when you want to attract someone towards yourself (your brand), you stick your tongue in your cheek, scoff with a raised brow and mock them, call them old fashioned, outdated and out of touch. That’s exactly how I want to be told I’m a consumer the brand respects. Someone took up negging. Wow.

Here’s the Nescafe ad:

Now it’s Coke. With summer on the onset, it’s natural that beverage brands will take their claws out and aim for each others’ market. What no one expected was that someone on the team who CLEARLY doesn’t get the mentality of a chai consumer would decide that this year, the brand would get sneaky, edgy, sexy and aim at… chai. Seriously, Coke? You have enough desis on your pay roll to know we STILL drink tea in the summer and no amount of chilly fizz and sexy Sikki will make us change our minds. Yes, we will definitely opt for a Coke with our dinner or when we are feeling hot, but NOT at the cost of chai altogether. That comparison alone is badly researched and really lacks understanding of your market. Coke will never be a replacement for chai. And neither will coffee!

Check yourselves!

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Comments (46)

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iftikhar Apr 05, 2017 05:33pm

Agree fully

santosh Apr 05, 2017 05:37pm

I am completely agree on the views of this author.Nice article. Thanks a lot.

Iftikhar Apr 05, 2017 05:51pm

Very well said! Respect your culture and values

Rakesh Apr 05, 2017 05:53pm

Chai or Coke, both are imports......one from Great Britain and another from USA.......Tea is the legacy of our imperial masters

Fudayl Z. Ahmad Apr 05, 2017 05:54pm

Excellent article and I agree completely. Chai is our national drink and nothing can and will replace it. And so is lassi. Sodas and other drinks can create their own space but don't even think about underestimating the power of chai and lassi.

Zeshan Akram Apr 05, 2017 05:57pm

Totally agree with the writer.. We have emotional attachment linked with Chai...

NoChaiNoRespect.. :)

Maria kanwal Apr 05, 2017 06:42pm

Exactly chai is a feeling an "experience".

ASR Apr 05, 2017 07:44pm

Lassi, in my view, is our national drink.

Imaad Apr 05, 2017 07:55pm

"If you have been offered chai by someone, you know you are someone they approve of" - Actually, being offered "chai" usually comes before general discussion, so whether one approves of their company or not, chai is offered. Hence, chai doesn't denote acceptance.

Tab Apr 05, 2017 07:59pm

Simply awsum ????????

Rev. Eldrick Lal Apr 05, 2017 08:48pm

Tea still rules!

jawaid Apr 05, 2017 09:36pm

Nice observation in this article. Chai is our National as well as social drink. Mother advice to children to get a cup of Chai. Not harm, anti aging and cultural drink. A lesser cost food for all (dip roti and fill the stomach with it help)

Janan Apr 05, 2017 09:40pm

Chai oor yaar this what we need.

Home Apr 05, 2017 09:41pm

Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew all poison for your body. Take Glucose testing strip and check your sugar level in half an hour after drinking soda. You will be surprised what happens in your body. If you do not burn that sugar gone in your body it change into bad fats around your belly area and make you look unhealthy. Chai on the hand a very healthy drink. Tea, water, milk and a tea spoon of sugar and great taste. Chai is healthy and classy.

Javed Jabbar Apr 05, 2017 09:49pm

Very well said. I myself is addicted to chai. One thing that needs to understand is that chai is like a fuel to people like me. Chile can never be a fuel. I think Coke marketing people are brainless. How can they compare Coke with chai. And by the way, you are also correct that weather temperature doesn't have effect on chai lovers. When I need a chai I can drink it in 50 degree centigrade temperature, and enjoy it. :-)

Chai wala Apr 05, 2017 09:53pm

Probably they were having chai while they made the commercials. Besides, coke needs to compete with pepsi and dew first if they want to break hamari chai ki market.

AYEsha Apr 05, 2017 09:53pm

As the writer said, chai is the flue that gets you going in the morning. Its the caffeine in the chai that gets one going in the morning not chai! But whatever the case is. Such fun campaigns make all the brands stay on their feet. If it wasn't for coke, chai brands wouldn't even come out of the whole dancing and selling chai advertising. So i guess chai brands should be thankful to coke other than complaining! Coke just showed chai brands another way of selling their chai :D

Hamadullah Sohu Apr 05, 2017 10:07pm

@ASR Yes you are spot on!!! Lassi is awesome not so called Chai. I believe writer has some issues with "Zaalima"

Hamadullah Sohu Apr 05, 2017 10:09pm

Don't worry chai time will come back soon, once weather will be perfect, but this is the perfect time for some Cold beverages.

Bilal Apr 05, 2017 10:10pm

Both Chai and coke have their own place in out culture. Everyone has their own opinion and heres mine: If brands are having a go at Chai we should let them have it and wait and see how customers respond.

Farhan Apr 05, 2017 10:47pm

It's good to see these ad wars and marketers finding new ways to compete. This healthy competition is good for Pakistani market.

Also, it's not about chai it's about the garmi. And a thandi coke won't hurt anyone. :))

QuratulaiN tejani Apr 05, 2017 10:59pm

I honestly think this Coke ad was just a general portrayal of a situation in this hot Karachi weather. It generally depicted how we get tempted when we see a bottle of chilled Coke. The girl loved chai so was having it but got pulled by a bottle of chilled Coke. Didn't see any condescending tone towards chai in the ad.

Parvez Apr 05, 2017 11:33pm

You have my vote on this .... chai wins over any cola any day.

Muhammad zahid Apr 05, 2017 11:39pm

That's why one of my friends always say, "CHAYE is life."

B.patel. USA Apr 06, 2017 01:46am

@Rakesh, chill man. There are many imports (such as hot peppers, Chocolate, Chicoo etc from Mexico), which are adopted by this land and people love them. Of course 'Chai' is in a class by it self. Diet or not, Chai made in pure Desi way is one pleasure I will never give up.

Saad Bin Razzaq Apr 06, 2017 02:38am

I am into marking research and have worked with leading beverage companies struggling to penetrate their beverages (especially Coffee) since the country is a tea drinking nation. The connection with tea is centuries old and its blended in the cultural fabric of the region. We have advised the companies not to compete head on with tea, market their beverage as a compliment not as a substitute or concentrate on certain niche.

Imtiaz janda Apr 06, 2017 03:18am

If we remove tea from our culture, what else is left? Corrupt politicians, mercinary doctors, selfish businessmen, not meant to be educators, run of the mill government officials. Drinking tea is a cognitive process of our fornation in a world wrongly abundant of those 'otherwise'. If we remove tea from our lives, we are left with brands selling obesity, the drinks we are left with are not beauty and the beasts but are beautifuly beasts. The otherwise are dark, black and their intent of harm is fizzy! Hope you understand.

Mohsin khan Apr 06, 2017 08:43am

Whilst I completely agree that Chai is still culturally relevant, having worked in the Tea industry for several years I can tell you that not only is the industry on a decline in Pakistan it is also fast becoming an old persons drink, losing relevance for the average Pakistani. Pk is becoming an increasingly young market, for which Chai is quickly becoming irrelevant. Tea is dying a slow and unstoppable death. Repeated research over several years has validated that tea is losing cultural significance. Having said that, it pains me to see brands selling super unhealthy beverages trying to eat into the share that tea brands possess. We're replacing a cup of tea with a invitation to diabetes. It sucks that rather than having the tea industry come together and educate the masses on making a healthier, better cup of tea (low milk, no sugar), the narrative is switching to high-caffeine, high-sugar beverages.

Dr Jamal Apr 06, 2017 09:03am

so called soft drinks are weapon of mass disability and disease and must be banned particularly in hot countries like Pakistan. It has high callories, carbonates, sugar which increase thirst, weight gain leads to Diabetes Mellitus and kidney failure.

SYED HASSAN HASEEB Apr 06, 2017 09:17am

chai is best for us in the present time . very well written . it connects with time and friends.

Muhammad Arshad Apr 06, 2017 09:42am

Good one indeed, my favorite way of making tea, take one cup of water in a pan and put two tea bags (I Happen to have tea bags) and put qtr cup milk and few leaves of Zafarn and let it boil on low heat and put the lid on, once it rises in the pan, turn off the flame and pour it in the cup and enjoy.

If you have some plants in your home, Put these tea bags in the mud, it will become fertilizer for plants.

Have Fun, Pakistani Tea it is :)

critic Apr 06, 2017 09:50am

Great Article!! I think the person made this add have a "cup" of coke at the morning before making this foolish add and made a comparison of chai and coke

Yasir Apr 06, 2017 10:25am

100% agree with the write.

Why do you have to insult me for drinking tea to market your product? why can't I be a tea drinker and also a coffee or coke consumer?

TAHA SHABBer Apr 06, 2017 10:37am

Those companies who are bashing the tea , badly need a cup of tea in their board meetings, LoL

Umer Apr 06, 2017 10:52am

On the Point. Your thoughts matched with my marketing teacher .

Ali Apr 06, 2017 11:27am

I'd disagree on a point in particular. People have changed a lot from offering just chai. Being asked chai ya thanda challay ga is now the growing norm. It's now a matter of choice, which means you opt for tea, the lady in the ad drops tea for coke and I personally most often do takaluf and ask for water. Celebrate choice don't be a hater Yaar.

Tyrone Apr 06, 2017 11:55am

@Rakesh Very true but we've been conditioned to accept it. Go figure eh?

Tyrone Apr 06, 2017 11:56am

@Fudayl Z. Ahmad Lassi jaise koi nahin

Tyrone Apr 06, 2017 12:05pm

@Mohsin khan Hey can you share market figures, I believe coffee is still an urban phenomenon. Tea is the drink of the masses, be it urban or rural

Ilyas hussain Apr 06, 2017 01:54pm

at your article, the deep meaning of the tea we know, and so hard on coke is quite amazing. but one thing i feel is that this article is a part of the plan-coke marketing campaign, like a support strategy of explaining the purpose of the ad to consumers.

Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad Apr 06, 2017 02:23pm

What else can they do to stay ahead of chai?

Waqar Ahmed Shaikh Apr 06, 2017 02:31pm

At least, I'll never let go my 'chai' over any other drink, and I think neither will many other in Pakistan. Hot cup of Tea is all we want. This ad made me laugh out loud, poor advertising tactics by Coke.

MJ Khan Apr 06, 2017 03:54pm

How is Chai our culture and national drink? Don't you know it was the British who introduced Tea to us. Nobody drank tea before that.

syedchaudhrygangadinkhan Apr 06, 2017 04:31pm

Pure business. If people start drinking Coke instead of Chai, imagine the income!

Dilipkumar Patel Apr 06, 2017 05:17pm

Westerners drink cold drinks to quench their thirst, where as the eastern people drink a hot cup of tea in the heat to cool off.

Zees Apr 14, 2017 01:14pm

Coca cola hit a sixer with the chai campaign. It's very good advertising. They generated a buzz. The writer obviously needs to reassess the campaign. Pepsi and Coke are the only 2 competing brands. Now with so much coca cola on the lips, when you order a drink on a hot sunny day it will be coke. Plus nestle and lipton have already started a brand war giving coca cola free publicity and even more reach. Nestle especially with a picture of a chilled glass of coke and cookie. That picture of a coca cola glass had be me craving something cool ASAP. Coca cola marketing team is very smart I think.