A good place to start is understanding what Brooks Bond imagines itself to be. Having celebrity sponsors – Zakir Hussain, Saif Ali Khan, Madhuri Dixit – isn’t anything new or surprising for a large, cross-national brand. Usually these celebrities are used to invoke either a social or sensual aura, given their fame and beauty. Brooks Bond, however, uses its ambassadors to curate a sense of aristocracy, regality, and sophistication.
Start with the description of Taj Mahal on the company’s website. Saif Ali Khan isn’t an actor or model first. He is “the nawab” – evoking the sense of Mughal royalty that Brooks Bond wishes to connect with its tea. This is a theme Gautam Bhadra speaks extensively about in his document. Most early advertisements for both Lipton and Brooks Bond (the two dominant competitors) appealed to a sense of sophistication and high fashion – inserting ...view middle of the document...
Each session takes you on a fascinating tea journey – brewing to appreciating the finer aspects of tea.”
This sets the context for analyzing the Wah Taj Ad featuring Zakir Hussain. In retrospect, the ad achieved exactly what it intended – bringing Brooks Bond tea to a sophisticated, literary status. The advertisement, which first aired years ago, is currently archived by the “Enlighten Film Society” an organization with the express vision of taking art to the next level:
Enlighten is an arts-media organisation committed to creating, disseminating, exhibiting and preserving all forms of the arts. Enlighten was founded in 2007 to screen movies that truly affect the audience, enhances their dreams (or their nightmares), and welcomes them into an alternate reality. This idea has evolved into and organization which helps great art meet great audiences across platforms.
The core of the advertisement is the phrase “Only practice can make an Ustaad” (approximately). The implication is that the maestros that taste Brooks Bond teas (thousands of them) are experts at their craft. Subliminally linking these experts to the tabla master Zakir Hussain heightens the sense of sophistication associated with Brooks Bond teas, to be experienced by the most discriminating minds in society.
Of course you can’t ignore the backdrop of the Taj Mahal itself in the background. This perhaps is suggestive of the role tea plays as not only the lifeblood of the country, but as an “Ambassador of India” (as the ITMEB would have you believe). India, for any foreigner, is intimately connected with its most majestic monument: the Taj Mahal. By advertising this tea as a natural extension of the monument (consumed by an Ustaad while he is playing his instrument) Brooks Bond tea tries to take on another life as not just high quality tea, but a necessary ingredient to everything that (apparently) makes India amazing: sophisticated music, grand structures, and historically rich culture.
And indeed, Brooks Bond manages to inject itself in a centuries-old heritage – quite the accomplishment.