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BRAND X: Tea Zone

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Brand: Lipton Iced Tea
Agency: J. Walter Thompson (NY)
Creative Director: Alan Platt

Lipton Iced Tea has undergone an overnight brand-personality transplant -- and you have to wonder if it was chemically induced. A new TV spot shows a guy busily shaping some front-lawn shrubbery into a giant bunny. "Hey, Chief," demands the homeowner, emerging from his door. "What are you doing with my bush?" That's when we see that our protagonist has turned an entire block's worth of hedges into a topiary zoo. This wacko, it turns out, is a Lipton iced-tea drinker -- or that's what we're to infer from the spot's tag line: "You'll feel good . . . maybe too good." (The campaign appears in print form on New York City buses and subway platforms.) Until five minutes ago, staid Lipton was your grandma's iced-tea choice; one of the brand's mild-mannered sell lines was "Life's a little better with Lipton Tea." The new campaign has the subversive wit and quick pulse of a Snapple spot -- which is, of course, the point: Lipton is defending its lead (sales of $532 million in '99) against newly reenergized Snapple ($372 million in '99). Its trippy new motto might make you think Lipton had started mixing Zoloft into the drink, but beverage marketing has always been about hyperbole and overpromising. When one sweetened tea tastes roughly the same as the next, why not sell hope in a bottle?


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