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This is a self-funded case study using our ad testing solution.
Every aspect of the Yorkshire Tea brand has been meticulously crafted to reinforce its local, down-to-earth, working-class positioning — helping make it one of the U.K.’s most relevant and authentic brands.
Despite recent campaigns being littered with celebrities, (including Sir Patrick Stewart, Michael Parkinson, and Sean Bean,) Yorkshire Tea has been careful to deploy them in a way befitting of the brand’s lighthearted personality, never straying too far from its heartland. This has even extended to various musical numbers over the years, with relatable personalities and insights resonating with tea drinkers far and wide.
Which brings us to the brand’s latest creative adventure, Pack Yer Bags. In a delightful twist, the iconic brand embarked on an overseas jaunt in 2023, being transported from the idyllic northern England countryside to the glitz and glamor of the Spanish islands. What emerged was an EDM hit that hilariously captured the trope of British youngsters’ jet-setting to Ibiza for a summer getaway. Fronted by spirited lad, Skipton Alfie, the ad turned ingrained stereotypes on their head to make it all about Yorkshire Tea — amusingly depicting the lengths some will go to catch a great brew abroad.
The buzz generated online by the full-length musical piece meant it wasn’t surprising that the ad was found highly attention-grabbing by the wider population of tea drinkers. And while the novelty could’ve easily overshadowed the Yorkshire Tea brand, the unexpected juxtapositions and clever lyrics ensured it wouldn’t be forgotten. Lines including “Sambuca shot, tequila shot, rather have a Yorkshire Tea in a teapot” and “10 kilos of the good stuff, mate” (paired with shots showing Alfie’s bag stuffed with tea boxes), meant Yorkshire Tea was central to the clever humor.
Cutting through the clutter with an emotive piece of content while encoding the brand in people’s memories is key to building mental availability and remaining front-of-mind when consumers are placed in buying situations. Thus, the campaign delivers on two key elements of the creative effectiveness jigsaw puzzle.
However, while the brand can be forgiven for taking a leap of faith in the pursuit of ‘fresh consistency’ (that is, redeploying brand assets in new and topical ways over time to maintain their relevance), it was a step too far for some. While found amusing by many, the ad lacked congruency with what people have come to expect from Yorkshire Tea. Unsurprisingly, these feelings were even more pronounced amongst the ‘older’ cohort (45-64 y/o’s), with many left alienated by the in-your-face approach and storyline built around nightclubs, partying, and illicit substances — subsequently being less likely to perceive Yorkshire Tea as a ‘brand for them’.
The quirkiness and repetition translated into heightened feelings of annoyance amongst tea drinkers of all ages. While some may argue ‘any attention is good attention’, what brands must remember is that the primary goal of advertising is to seed positive associations in people’s minds — not only so the brand can be easily retrieved in buying situations, but also so that it ‘feels’ like a good choice. With irritation levels four times the level we’d typically expect, this ultimately diminished predisposition toward Yorkshire Tea.