Unilever's Lipton Hirameki launch hits China

Making "inspiring" tea trendy among young office workers

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SHANGHAI--Unilever has unveiled Lipton Hirameki, a black tea blend with health attributes, in China this month with a through-the-line ad campaign aimed at stressed office workers. The mainland is one of the last markets in Asia in which Unilever has introduced Hirameki, a tea product developed in Japan in early 2006. It is already on sale in Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Hirameki, part of the Lipton Yellow Label product family, is infused with an amino acid called Theanine, said Shanghai-based Aart Jan van Triest, Unilever's VP-beverages category, East Asia. "It is a new way of talking about black tea. What we have discovered is that Theanine makes you relaxed and alert at the same time. It's good for inspired performance and inspired thinking, both things people lack in normal everyday life in Asia now."

Hirameki is a Japanese word that means inspiration or the phrase, “I've got an idea” in English, he added. “We thought it would be interesting to have a word we can own across the world," as Unilever may introduce the Hirameki brand outside Asia.

“The strategy was about inspiring a new generation of tea drinkers, so it doesn't seem old-fashioned, but rather a healthy alternative to energy drinks like Red Bull or coffee. Tea pumps up the brain, it's not just about pumping up the body,” said Cate O'Kane, JWT's Shanghai-based director-in-charge, Northeast Asia.

The WPP Group agency developed the initial Hirameki ad campaign in Tokyo, but the TV spots were reworked for China. “We tested the original campaign, but it felt too Japanese," she explained. Two spots will air in late July or early August themed around travel and exploration, depicting Chinese solving riddles in which the answer is Lipton Hirameki tea.

In a global realignment earlier this year, the Lipton creative business moved to DDB. The agency's Tribal DDB division developed an innovative digital component for Hirameki, including a web site, hirameki-park.com. MindShare oversaw above-the-line media buying across Asia.

“China is the culmination of the regional internet campaign, which varied market-by-market, in terms of using mobile phones and the internet, as well as public spaces like cafes,” said Mr. van Triest. “The uniqueness that we bring to society today is allowing Asia's younger generation to be integrated in tea culture, which is very traditional here, while living a modern lifestyle. And so far, we are very successful, especially among young consumers.”

The digital aspect of the Hirameki launch was the first Lipton assignment handled by DDB Group in Asia, and the mobile campaign also plays on the power of Theanine, said Adam Good, Tribal DDB's regional president in Hong Kong. “Once it hits the brain, it gives you relaxed but alert state. This is a good time to have an idea."

The regional web site, customized by language, creates communities where consumers can share ideas."

“We know that Asians know about the benefits of tea, but we wanted to communicate it in an intriguing environment. Asians are now very busy in the work force, and we are starting to have a culture of coffee coming, so we want to make sure Asians remember the benefits of tea, particularly in the afternoon beverage snack period.

The agency developed a software program that gives consumers a three-to-five minute break. The application essentially takes over a PC desktop with a variety of puzzles and quizzes called “a Hirameki Moment.”

Each day at a designated time, the software asks the consumer what type of break they would like to have among three categories--inspiration, flash of mind, or new perspective. After the consumer makes a selection, the software streams content from the internet based on the chosen selection.

“It's kind of like taking five minutes out to do a crossword or brain teaser, but in an electronic way and brought to consumers by Lipton black tea product,” said Mr. Good.

In Hong Kong, Unilever added a mobile extension developed by the mobile marketing specialist, The Hyperfactory, which will eventually run in China.

“We're essentially bringing games into a mobile environment and delivering content experiences. Most mobile campaigns tend to be oriented around stock content, downloaded photos as screen savers or pop songs for ring tones. We've done something different here,” said Hyperfactory's Geoffrey Handley, Hong Kong-based sales and marketing director.

While the site does have Hirameki wallpapers and ring tones, users who browse the site will be able to send a keyword to receive a link to download their content, such as weekly SMS quizzes.

“China is the last major Asian market to run the entire digital campaign,” added Mr. Good. “They wanted to get learnings from all other markets before going into China, which is a big market with a strong history of drinking tea. And especially in China, there's an underlying issue around productivity in the workplace. The fact that people want to be relaxed and alert is a nice product benefit in China, where coffee is starting to grow well. It seems like there is a Starbucks on every corner.”
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