BrandTalk: Only way for a mass brand to work is empathy: Sushant Dash, Tata Beverages

Dash, President, India & Middle East, Tata Global Beverages, spoke on ‘Tata Tea keeping human at the center - the new heart of brand engagement’

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Jul 20, 2019 8:54 AM



There was nothing unusual about Tata Tea’s endorsement, branding, or promotion until 2007 when the ‘Jago re’ campaign happened and it became a movement, said Sushant Dash, President, India & Middle East, Tata Global Beverages. Dash was delivering a special address at Pitch BrandTalk 2019 in Gurugram on Friday. Speaking on the topic ‘Tata Tea keeping human at the center - the new heart of brand engagement’, Dash shared Tata Tea’s journey and the story of their very popular ‘Jago re’ campaign. He explained how Tata Tea has kept human at the centre of brand engagement.

Dash opened the session by talking how Tata Tea, during 2005-2007, wasn’t focussed on celebrating the consumer and was doing usual marketing of the product.

“During one of the meetings, I realised that alike other tea brands, we only talked about the aroma, colour, strength, taste and mental & physical rejuvenation. But, in actual, we didn’t keep the consumer at the centre, and hence, the campaign ‘Jago re’ was born,” he said.

While there were strong undercurrents of change and a paradigm shift was being witnessed, brand Tata Tea decided to break away from the regular cluster. In order to increase brand engagement, we put humans at the centre by launching the ‘Jago re’ campaign that touched upon social issues. The brand aimed to create, empathy, brand love, emotional equation, and not transactional equation and authenticity, according to Dash.

“Sometimes we forget that the consumer is the center of our services. The only way for a mass brand to work is empathy,” he remarked.

Explaining the move, Dash said, “In general, tea is seen as a product that provides energy and rejuvenates you mentally and physically. We stood out because we said that there is a tea brand that not only rejuvenates you but awakens you to a social cause and that’s where we brought humans at the centre. While other tea brands continued to talk about their product, Tata Tea spoke about awakening.”

But how the brand would act as a catalyst to be an agent of change and stand out as an immersive brand is important. Dash asserted that the brand needs to take an insight and inspire individual change to brew a social change. And Tata Tea did that with individual accountability and individual reflection.

“The ‘Jago re’ campaign was started in 2007 and is still on the top.  The youth wanted to make the change and was willing to do it. And we as a brand caught the nerves and joined hands with consumers and acted as felicitator and walked the talk.”

According to Dash, the team from Tata Tea studied insights, and based on consumers’ feedback, chose issues plaguing the society. The brand then would select an issue to awaken the consumers and would be instrumental in making the change happen. And a classic example of such campaigns taken up by Tata Tea is the one that addressed voting apathy. In its first ‘Jago re’ campaign in 2007, Tata Tea talked about background check of politicians, and then came out with successive campaigns urging consumers to vote.  


Take onus – Inspire the change

Brand Tata Tea, which today resonates with billions of people, not only successfully created awakening but also helped society at large to voice their issues and acted as a bridge or agent of change, said Dash.  And to throw more light, he cited few examples of how Tata Tea walked the talk with consumers and awakened people. “We selected a topic and approached consumers asking them what is it about it that needs to be voiced out. Issues ranging from gender sensitisation to corruption and sports came to light. The team then researched and picked up the issue of voting. We tied-up with Jaanagraha and the Election Commission to hep youths register themselves as voters. We helped six lakh first-time voters cast their vote,” Dash averred.  

“Tata Tea believes in pre-activism. And the brand has been instrumental in changing people’s mindset with their campaign ‘Alarm bajne se pehle jago re’. “We didn’t look at the macro level. We actually talked about it on the individual level. The idea is not about creating awareness but walk the talk and facilitate,” Dash concluded.


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