Two to tango for $ 40 m tea marketing push!

Monday, 6 January 2014 00:02 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • TEC recommends two agencies separately for advertising and PR after 4 vied for the major 3-year global deal
  • 2-year search finally comes to an end as finalisation of key initiative likely by end January
By Shabiya Ali Ahlam The two-year wait for a professional job of promoting Ceylon Tea globally is coming to an end, with the Government likely to firm up the contract by end January. The Daily FT learns that of the four professional agencies which vied for the contract, two have been selected following a competitive process. One has been identified to handle Public Relations (PR) and the other for creative advertising. The original shortlisted four agencies were Grant McCann Erickson, Phoenix O&M, Bates & Burson-Marsteller and Grey Worldwide. A Technical Evaluation Committee has picked two firms for the three-year marketing exercise estimated to be worth $ 40 million and funded by the industry cess of Rs. 3.50 per kilo of tea exported. A final decision from the Cabinet Appointed Negotiation Committee (CANC) is pending for the finalisation of the contracts. The industry expects this to be done before end of January, though some still don’t rule out certain undercurrents. The Sri Lanka Tea Board initially aimed to kick off the global campaign in mid 2012 but the mega task was put off to October 2013 and then 2014 due to not having a suitable promo partner. Having called for tenders at the beginning of 2012, the selection of an agency in taking the ‘Ceylon Tea’ brand to the next level was delayed since the organisations that applied failed to impress the Tea Board with their concepts. For the initial tender call, about 10 agencies applied, out of which four were shortlisted. On the lookout for an ‘out-of-the-box’ campaign for Ceylon Tea, SLTB gave the four shortlisted agencies the opportunity to resubmit their proposals which were put forward to the Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) and later to the CANC for final approval. The two-year delay has been a cause for concern within the tea industry, with some noting that the country had lost share in certain markets. They noted that had there been a campaign from last year, Sri Lanka could have garnered a higher value for Ceylon Tea and strengthened prospects overall in the highly-challenging international market. Sri Lanka Tea Board Director Promotion Hasitha De Alwis acknowledged that if the global campaign was launched earlier, the country could have done better in its tea exports. “But we have not lost our market share due to the delay in the launch of the campaign,” he emphasised. According to Asia Siyaka Commodities Plc, Sri Lanka in 2013 had an extraordinary year, with prices for Ceylon Tea moving on their own and seemingly out-of-sync with the rest of the world. It said available data for November suggests that Sri Lanka will achieve the targeted tea export figure of $ $ 1.5 b in 2013. By November the country had exported 290.6 million kilos of tea and earned $1.40 b. Final figures for the year therefore would be close to 320 million kilos at an approximate $ value of $1.54 b. In 2011 the country earned $1.49 billion and in 2012 the figure was $1.40 billion making 2013’s likely figure an all time record. In Sri Lankan Rupees, the income figure would be in the region of Rs. 197 billion – well above the 2012 figure of Rs. 164 billion.