ASA: Pyramid Bags Make Better Infusions

After reviewing test results from competitors Tetley and PG Tips, the British Advertising Standard’s Authority has determined pyramid bags exhibit “better brewing efficiency.”

WTN140728_ART_PGTipsPyramidBags_CommercialThe decision follows a national advertising campaign by Unilever’s PG Tips that claimed pyramid bags are superior to round tea bags. The TV commercial shows the progression of infusion in two clear glasses side by side with a pyramid bag in one and a round tea bag in the other.

Tata Global Beverages, makers of Tetley tea in round bags, complained the advertising was exaggerated and misleading and that tea made with round tea bags is equal to that brewed in pyramids bags after 40 seconds and again at two minutes, the most common brewing times for British tea drinkers.

The Standard’s Authority (ASA) upheld Unilever’s claim.

In announcing the ruling ASA stated: “We considered consumers would interpret the visual demonstration to be a representation of a simple consumer experiment and would not interpret it as a representation of a detailed scientific test.

“We considered consumers would interpret the demonstration to mean that, in general, a pyramid tea bag was more efficient at brewing tea than a round tea bag.

“Unilever provided test results which showed that the infusion of tea, at 40 seconds and two minutes into brewing, was greater when using a pyramid tea bag than when using a round tea bag. We therefore concluded that the ad did not exaggerate the capability and performance of the advertised product and was not misleading.”

In a report in the British newspaper The Telegraph, the ASA added: “We considered consumers would interpret the claim ‘the tea has more room to move freeing the great fresh taste’ to mean that the shape of the tea bag would allow more tea, and therefore taste, to be released.

Although it was not mentioned by name, Tata asserted the comparison with a round tea bag ‘denigrated Tata’s brand Tetley’ as it believed they were an ‘identifiable competitor’ and the ad ‘portrayed the brand in a negative light’. Tetley submitted its own findings on the brewing efficiency of round tea bags but ASA found Unilever’s research more compelling.

Approximately 30% of the teabags sold in the U.K. are round. Tetley produces about half of the round bags that are sold.

Source: ASA, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail