Unilever will move its roughly $10 million Lipton teas account in the U.S. from WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, New York, to Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, New York, in preparation for a relaunch of the brand next year. The shift was made without a review.
The Lipton tea business includes ready-to-serve Lipton iced teas and Lipton Brisk that are part of Unilever and PepsiCo's joint Pepsi Lipton Tea Partnership. That business, the largest ready-to-drink franchise, grew 1.6% last year, vs. declines of 12% for Coca-Cola Co.'s Nestea and 5.6% for Cadbury Schweppes' Snapple, according to Beverage Digest.
"As Lipton moves forward to revitalize the brand in the U.S., we feel the time is right to consider a fresh point of view for new ideas on our consumer advertising strategy," a Unilever spokeswoman said in a statement. JWT will still retain the Lipton business outside the U.S. DDB, already a Unilever roster shop, "possesses the deep creative capabilities to help Lipton deliver world class communication behind its key initiatives," she said.
Variety of initiatives
John Sicher, editor of Beverage Digest, recently cited a variety of initiatives slated for next year as part of the Lipton relaunch, among them a new glass-bottle premium line dubbed Lipton Original and a restaging of Lipton Brisk to compete with Coke's Nestea Cool. He also said Pepsi plans to introduce a mid-tier tea to go up against Snapple and Arizona iced teas.
One retail executive said Lipton has been under fire from specialty tea marketers on the hot-tea side, among them Kraft Foods' new agreement to market Starbucks' Tazo brand, and its iced tea has been eroded by regional brands.
"They've rested on the laurels of the name Lipton for so long, but now everybody's gunning at them and winning," he said.