Tazo Pokes Fun at Sedate and Serene Tea Ads in First Campaign From Vice’s Agency, Virtue

Now owned by Unilever, brand says it 'isn’t that kind of tea'

In its millennial-focused new campaign, Tazo plays with the tropes of tea marketing. Tazo

Are naked men with full-body tattoos your cup of tea? How about death-rockers that tool around in hearses, or psychedelic music festivals with fire-breathing freaks?

Such is the stuff of Tazo’s quirky new commercials, the brand’s first big push since being purchased by Unilever more than a year ago. Rolling out this week across video channels, social media and cinemas, the millennial-focused campaign, “Brew the Unexpected,” also marks Tazo’s debut collaboration with Virtue, the agency owned by Vice Media.

“The campaign creative plays with cultural assumptions around a category frequently associated with cozy relaxation or meditation,” George Hamilton, marketing director at Unilever Teas, tells Adweek. “We wanted to show that Tazo isn’t that kind of tea.”

To do so, Virtue crafted a series of 15-second sitcom-style spots with silly twist endings. In the first ad below, two friends engage in some “girl talk,” though you’ll have to watch until the end to get the full picture:

Next, a twenty-something leaves home to follow her favorite dead-beat band:

Finally, a couple wakes up with Tazo Wild Sweet Orange—in a setting that’s wild in its own way:

That last spot presented some challenges for the creative team as they set up for the climactic wide shot of the festival’s frolicking and festivities.

“Fire breathers were warming up, a guy with a disco ball was doing calisthenics,” recalls Virtue group creative director Heather Pieske. “We had the camera up on the boom and were blocking out the talent when we noticed a little wisp of ‘smoke’ coming over the hilltop. For the next two hours, the set was shrouded in dense mist. The scene was totally surreal. Finally, just as the sun was setting, we had a break in the clouds and were able to get the shot.”

This spring, 30 lucky brand superfans will get the chance to enjoy outdoor tea-fueled antics firsthand, thanks to a Camp Tazo weekend sleepaway contest. The key word here is “camp,” with drag performer Alyssa Edwards curating “a mix of classic activities like hiking, cooking and campfire sing-alongs, with unique unexpected twists.”

Hamilton says Camp Tazo will provide “a solution to the monotony often experienced from not stepping out of the comfort of our everyday routine—a way for our fans to try something new and engage with the brand in a truly immersive, unique way.”

“The response has been incredible,” he says, “with thousands of entries for the chance to participate, and millions of engagements through Tazo and Alyssa Edwards’ social channels, including engagements from celebrities and influencers alike.”

The teetotalers at Edelman shop Edible developed the Camp Tazo concept.


Agency: Virtue
Client: Tazo
Campaign: “Brew The Unexpected”

Chief Creative Officer: Cameron Farrelly
Group Creative Director: Heather Pieske
Creative Director: Tim Harrington, Nicole James
Copywriter: Jen Hubbard, Noah Sacksteder
Art Director: Laura Bailey
Head of Production: Jill Rothman
Producer: Peter Feldman
Integrated Producer: Margaret Barnard
Head of Strategy: RG Logan
Associate Strategy Director: Mathoto Matsetela
Strategist: Tai Koga
Media Manager: Taylor Delbridge
Head of Client Services: Adam Katzenback
Client Partner: Kim Young
Associate Account Director: Rob Gerlach

Production Company: Tool
Production Services: Tonic Films
Director: Shawn Z
DP: German Lammers
Executive Producer: Preston Garrett
Executive Producer: Susie Neill
Producer: Jeff Tanner
Post Producer: Susan Grossman
Editor: Dick Gordon
Assistant Editor: Oscar Torres
Color: MPC
Colorist: James Tillett
Conform/Flame: Marcello Amati
Sound: Sound Lounge
Recording Engineer/Mixer: Tom Jucarone

Music: Big Sync
Producer: Alexandra Carlsson Norlin

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@DaveGian davegia@hotmail.com David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.