Vital Tea’s latest ad could easily be turned into a mini series titled Rants of the proverbial phuppa at desi weddings. While watching the ad I could imagine a typical desi, disgruntled uncle beginning all his conversations with “Kids these days, I tell you…” and clicking his tongue in disapproval.
After all, the brand summarised the preachy undertones of their ad in the last frame by showing a 50-something uncle requesting not-so-humbly to protect the cultural fabric of our society and safeguard tehzeeb [culture] by drinking tea (I mean, really!?). Attention, new parents! No need to waste years and years on the upbringing of your spawn – you can just feed them Vital Tea and voila! You have a tehzeeb-yafta offspring. The brand’s tagline ‘Vital Piyo, Zindagi Jiyo’ gives you the impression that maybe the brand was aiming for a more ‘follow your heart’, ‘live your life to the fullest’ type of emotional hook; this ad, however, is anything but. Oh irony, thou art a funny thing!
Instead of writing long paragraphs on why this ad is plain wrong and low-key offensive to Pakistanis in general, I will list down the three major lines used in the ad (and the concepts behind them) with which I have a problem:
1) ‘Jazbo se khaali kaali cold drink’ [A cold black drink void of emotions]
Coke’s challenger campaign and other brands taking jabs at each other was funny when it was new. Vital Tea with their not-so-subtle jab at Coke/Pepsi makes me think of a person who arrives late to the party and tries way too hard to be part of the ongoing conversations. The preachy tone, again, reminds me of a distant, 50-something relative (who I only meet at weddings) critically analysing my consumption of beverages and sharing their bleak knowledge of nutrition. Vital Tea's ad featuring lines like ‘rishtoun ki garmi mein cold drink ka kia kaam?’ and ‘rishtoun ko jilla do’ was more than enough to get the brand in with the cool guys. This one sadly plunges them in ‘the-brands-who-try-too- hard’ pool.
2) ‘Log ajeeb tarah sajnay lagayngay’ [People will start dressing in weird ways]
While the world is moving towards femvertising and being yourself, Vital Tea chooses to claim that if you’re not conforming to societal pressure and dress codes, you are devoid of tehzeeb.
3) ‘Tumhari pehchaan gum honay lagay’ [You’ll start losing your identity]
This line essentially says that not only should you not dress up like a freak you should also not lose your identity while doing that. As far as I know, your choice of clothing is one of the most harmless ways of expressing yourself and flaunting your individuality. #JustSaying.
A quick look at their previous reels in recent times shows that Vital Tea have been missing the mark for a considerable amount of time. Before things took a preachy turn for Vital Tea, they did come out with mildly humorous and highly-relatable copy such as ‘rishtoun kay connection internet kay connection se ziada strong hotay hain’ and ‘Agar aapkay aitraaf mein’ with their subtle jab at media ‘achi sachi khabrain do’ in 2016.
Starting off from scratch with absolutely no international affiliations and/or guidelines bogging them down, Vital Tea could have easily become our Tata Tea. Their recently campaigns, although based on key societal insights and cultural relevance, have leaned more towards the offensive than impactful side of the spectrum which dilutes the overall purpose. The brand has the capability of offering a penetrating critique of Pakistani society, but for some reason they are slowly moving towards holier-than-thou, hollow activism.