How Tata Tea is weaving Brand Kanan Devan into Kerala’s unique regional narrative

In an interesting approach, Tata Tea took up the varied dialects of Kerala, which differ every few kilometres, in its strategy for the relaunch of its brand – Tata Tea Kanan Devan. Despite being different in terms of cultural nuances and the way of life, Keralites are united by their love for tea. Keeping this thought in mind, the brand has crafted a beautiful and innovative TVC, sprinkled with a tone of humour that becomes absolutely relatable to the audience.

In conversation with Adgully, Puneet Das, SVP, Marketing – Beverages, Tata Consumer Products, speaks about the strategy behind announcing the re-launch of Tata Tea Kanan Devan, celebrating the unique diversity of Kerala, evoking regional pride amongst the people and much more. 

What was Tata Tea Kanan Devan’s strategy behind announcing its re-launch in Kerala?

Tata Tea Kanan Devan, having its roots from Kerala’s very own Kanan Devan Hills, enjoys a legacy status in the state.

Our goal is to deepen the emotional connect of the brand by celebrating uniqueness of Kerala, that instils a sense of pride in every Keralite. Our latest television commercial illustrates this difference in dialects of Malayalam, spoken across the various districts of Kerala and how it can lead to humorous situations. The depictions are so authentic to the state that only a brand as ingrained as Kanan Devan in Kerala can understand and appreciate the humour. We are sure our audiences will enjoy these witty situations and will definitely agree to the fact that one has to be from Kerala, just like Tata Tea Kanan Devan, to really appreciate this uniqueness of the state.

Can you give us more details about the conceptualising the latest campaign made for the people of Kerala? What other elements of the mix have been designed specifically for the market?

The campaign is conceived by Mullen Lintas Bangalore and aims at strengthening the brand’s roots in Kerala’s soil. The films are directed by national award-winning director VK Prakash, a famed ad-film maker, and foremost of all, a true Malayalee. The cast of the film includes renowned actors from the place of origin of each dialect, to enhance the authenticity of the dialogue delivery. Biju Menon, one of Kerala’s most celebrated actors, gave the narrator’s voice in the film to further spice-up the Malayalee flavour.

The film showcases that the dialect in Kerala is so different in different regions that words in the same language are misunderstood. This was a unique and fresh idea and an integral part of our conceptualisation. The communication is also supported by unique packs that have been designed keeping in mind all the elements that evoke regional pride amongst the people. Visual elements such as vibrant Kathakali and Mohini Attam dance, serene Kanan Devan hills, and the popular boat ride in backwaters, all instil a sense of oneness in the people of Kerala, which the brand Kanan Devan aims to celebrate.

Besides using dialect as a lens to explore how the state is unique despite diversity, what other elements have you used in the brand communication?

Kerala is a state which is rich in its culture and heritage and becomes a prominent tourist spot that brings the state on the global map. There are many elements that make the state unique – food, classical dance & music, its beautiful landscape.

And this uniqueness even extends to the world of Kanan Devan through its source of origin Kanan Devan Hills, a place known for its unique climactic condition, which lends the blends of Kanan Devan a very unique taste. Thus, celebrating unique Kerala is the pivot around which our refresh communication is centred around.

As a brand which is integral to Kerala, we know how the dialect in Kerala varies across few kilometres and often has several meanings to the same words. Marrying this unique idea with our restage proposition, we decided on building on the concept. Hence, Kanan Devan campaign is based on this central insight and celebrates the fact that it takes someone who belongs to Kerala, to understand this unique diversity of the state.

Just like Tata Tea Kanan Devan, from Kerala’s own Kanan Devan hills.

Who is the creative agency that has worked on this campaign? And who is the production house + director

Agency – Mullen Lintas Bangalore

Production House – Trends Ad Films

Director – V K Prakash

What was the creative brief given to the agency?

The creative brief was to capture three key aspects which are integral to the brand:

  • How do we celebrate Kerala’s uniqueness, by showcasing a slice from the everyday life of a Keralite?
  • Portray this uniqueness in a manner that’s authentically Malayalee, yet fresh in its take, with the brand seamlessly woven into the narrative.
  • Evoke ‘sense of local pride’ through this narrative.

What is the objective of this campaign?

Kanan Devan is a home grown brand of Kerala and is woven into the fabric of the state’s tea drinking culture. The objective of this refreshed campaign was to celebrate the deep bond that the brand already shared with the state and its people and thus deepen the emotional connect of the brand.

How different is this strategy as compared to the earlier ones? What peg have you taken for this campaign?

While Kanan Devan is a legacy brand from Kerala, the earlier campaigns have talked about the source story of Kanan Devan, which reinforces the local connect of the brand. With this new campaign, we have taken a step further to delve into the regional nuance of ‘language’ and used it as a lens to celebrate the uniqueness in the diverse population of the state, which instils pride in the local people.

How different is the execution of the story, in terms what has been previously done in playing the story of a state?

The TVC celebrates the uniqueness of state by exploring the beautiful and colourful lens of its unique language and the many dialects of the region. It has a completely local cast, directed by award-winning local director, and has been shot in the actual locations where the dialects from, are making it a truly authentic Kerala film. Biju Menon, one of Kerala’s most celebrated actors, gave the narrator’s voice in the film to further spice-up the local flavour.

How well has the TVC been received so far? Any quick reads?

In just over 48 hours of it going live, the TVC had more than 2 lakh views on social media. The growing popularity of the video film organically amongst our audience puts us in a bright light where ‘relatability’ is what is helping us give the extra mileage. Consumers are also proudly sharing it within their friends and relatives in various social groups.

How is Tata Tea planning to grow the tea market in Kerala, where coffee has a very strong hold?

Kerala is also a large tea market, with the size of the category being significantly larger than that of coffee. And a large chunk of that market is dominated by loose and local tea. Kanan Devan’s new communication is planned to rejuvenate the brand core, leading to higher consideration for the brand and accelerate the rate of upgrades from loose tea. 


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