Four advertising industry powerhouses will battle it out today with the aim of securing a US$ 9 million contract, which will provide the winner with the task of promoting the Ceylon Tea brand, an advertising industry official stated.
Accordingly, Grants, Phoenix Ogilvy and M, Bates and Burson - Marsteller and Grey Worldwide are set to make their presentations to the Sri Lanka Tea Board.
Janaki Kuruppu, Chairman, Sri Lanka Tea Board, confirmed to Mirror Business that the selection process was still ongoing and bids had been made for such a selection but refused to comment any further on the matter.
According to industry sources, JWT which had also bid for the contract was believed to have pulled out due to unknown reasons.
Ad industry source further said that the money for the campaign is coming from the Cess collected from tea exports, which is half the amount in this fund and is aimed at raising the profile of Ceylon Tea, which exporters say has lost global market share.
The campaign also comes at a time when geographical patenting of Ceylon Tea on a regional basis (Dimbula, Dickoya, Uva, etc. as brands) is underway by the Tea Board which is in discussions with a team that has arrived from abroad.
The overseas promotion campaign, likely to start around September/october, would be launched amidst a vibrant debate on whether or not to freely allow tea imports for blending purposes, which single-origin tea exporters like Dilmah are opposed to.
Sri Lanka’s tea industry is deeply divided over plans to boost earnings by importing cheaper leaves for blending and re-export, over fears the changes could water down the ‘Pure Ceylon’ brand.
Pure Ceylon, using the country’s colonial-era name, is to tea what single malt is to whisky, according to some aficionados, with single-origin Sri Lankan tea costing as much as twice that of a multi-origin tea.
The country has long been a leading exporter of the commodity, but now the Tea Exporters Association (TEA) wants to import leaves from countries like Kenya, Vietnam and Indonesia and blend them with higher quality local produce.