Honest Tea has moved steadily toward the mainstream of the U.S. beverage business in recent years, as Coca-Cola has invested more and more in the brand. But since it was purchased outright by Coke last year, the Bethesda, Md.-based organic-tea and -juice startup has moved at the even faster pace that would be expected of a tiny company now backed by the immense marketing and distribution resources of the world's biggest soft-drink concern.
So it's not surprising that Honest Tea has launched its first integrated advertising campaign (and a new tagline: "Refreshingly Honest") and, what's more, that it includes the brand's first foray into TV advertising — as you can watch below:
Launching this summer initially in four U.S. cities and then expanding to another seven cities by year-end, the 30-second spots feature animatronic tea leaves and lemons trying to get into a bottle of Honest Tea Half & Half organic tea with lemonade — but they are repeatedly thwarted because they're not organic ingredients. (Hence the first spot's title: "If it's not real, it's not Honest.")
"This is about accelerating awareness and trial" of Honest Tea drinks, Peter Kaye, the brand's CMO since early last year, told brandchannel. "We've been doing great, with double-digit sales growth — but how do we accelerate it further?" The brand's sales growth has been aided hugely by the fact that Coke has helped expand its retail accounts to more than 100,000 this year from just 15,000 in 2008 when Coke first started investing in the brand.
The TV ad is running in Boston, Philadelphia, Miami and Seattle on primetime television on the broadcast networks as well as with food and health-and-wellness cable programming. Honest Tea also continues, with this campaign, to pursue all of its "traditional" marketing activities such as events, in-store marketing and sampling. "That kind of thing is still important to a brand that is still relatively small, though we're growing fast," Kaye explained.
One interesting aspect of the 30-second ad is that it assumes on the part of viewers a certain appreciation for the rectitude of organic products, though they're usually priced higher and are less available than mainstream products. "Organic is a fundamentally important part of our product, and how we make the product and source our ingredients, but we also know that mainstream consumers are continuing to learn about the benefits of organic," Kaye said.
"So as we communicate more to the mainstream audience" with this TV spot, he said, "the priority is the taste and quality of our ingredients, of which their organic nature is a big part — but it's not just about being organic."