Sri Lanka Tea Board Shopping for World-class Agency

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka

Four of the world’s top public relations agencies are vying for a $9 million contract to promote Ceylon Tea.

The Sri Lanka Tea Board is weighing proposals after presentations by Burson-Marsteller, Grants, Phoenix Ogilvy and M. Bates.

“We feel that the best way forward is for the government to get involved very strongly with private enterprise and all industry stakeholders and work out a 5-year plan to brand Ceylon Tea alongside a country branding for Sri Lanka as well,” said Martin Roll, Burson-Marsteller’s Senior Advisor to the Global Strategy Team..

“We have made our submission to the Tea Board, and now it’s up to them to make a decision,” Roll told the Daily Mirror.

Financing is from a tax collected on tea exports levied to regain lost global market share.

The Tea Board has identified the major growing regions and intends to launch a big effort to market Sri Lanka’s fabled this fall.

A decision is expected about that time on whether the government will permit the import of lesser grade teas to blend with pure Ceylon tea. The issue is hotly debated with traditional growers complaining the move would dilute the brand. Members of the Tea Exporters Association and those involved in the value-added industry of blending and packaging tea, argue market share is quickly eroding to countries such as U.A.E. which earned $45 million last year on blending services.

Ceylon is to tea what single malt is to whisky, according to aficionados, with single-origin Sri Lankan tea selling for twice that of a multi-origin tea.

Exporters hope to blend tea from Kenya, Vietnam, Indonesia and India to remain competitive at the lower end of the market.

Source: Daily Mirror