Pyramid Tea Bags Better than Round or Advertising Watchdog Rules
But now the Advertising Standard’s Authority has ruled that pyramid shaped bags are more effective than the more traditional flat, round tea bags when making a brew.
The advertising watchdog has said that PG Tips has successfully shown the infusion of tea leaves in its pyramid shaped bags was more efficient than in round tea bag as used by rivals Tetley.
It made the ruling after Tata Global Beverages, the makers of Tetley, complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about a PG Tips TV advert starring Johnny Vegas and his sock puppet monkey.
Tetley said the ad, which showed the difference in ‘brewing power’ between a pyramid and a round tea bag, was exaggerated and misleading to viewers.
However, the ASA has ruled that the pyramid tea bag – invented in 1997 by Brooke Bond, the then parent company of PG Tips – did in fact have ‘better brewing efficiency’.
It 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.”
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.
“Unilever provided relevant modelling and measurements to demonstrate that the tea in the pyramid tea bag would have more room to move, and, as mentioned (above) Unilever had provided evidence to demonstrate that the pyramid tea bag had a greater brewing efficiency than the round tea bag.”
The ASA continued by saying: “We understood that several brands of tea bags on the market were round in shape.
“While a large portion of round tea bags were owned by Tetley, we considered that consumers would not immediately identify a round tea bag as being a Tetley tea bag.
“Because we considered that the comparison was not made with an identifiable competitor, we concluded that the ad did not denigrate Tetley.”
The PG Tips advert featured Johnny Vegas and a puppet monkey sitting at a kitchen table.
The comedian said in the advert: “Monkey, you know how you always say, ‘There’s no other tea to beat PG’ … What if you’re lying?
“Like when you said there was an angry owl in the biscuit cupboard?”
The monkey then makes two cups of tea in glass mugs – one with a pyramid bag and one with a round bag.
A close-up shot then shows how the pyramid bag starts colouring the hot water, starting the brewing process far quicker than the round tea bag.
The monkey then states: “PG Tips uses pyramid bags, so if we test one against a regular tea bag you’ll see the tea has got more room to move, freeing the great fresh taste for a perfect cuppa.”
Bosses at Tetley, which was the first to launch round tea bags in 1989, said the visual demonstration was ‘misleading and exaggerated the capability and performance’ of the PG Tips pyramid tea bag.
It also said the claim that “the tea has more room to move freeing the great fresh taste” was misleading and could not be substantiated as they believed it implied that “by virtue of its shape, the tea bag would produce a better tasting product”.
It also said 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’.
Chiefs at Unilever UK Ltd, which makes PG Tips after taking over Brooke Bond in 1984, said it had tested pyramid and round tea bags in the laboratory and found that pyramid tea bags had a better ‘infusion speed’ than round tea bags.
It said the advert merely showed ‘the difference a pyramid tea bag could make’ and that this was ‘of interest to the consumer’.
PG Tips bosses said the best way to ‘infuse’ tea was to use loose tea, but that it wanted to find out the difference in the ‘brewing efficiency’ of the two types of tea bags.
The tea manufacturer produced lab results showing the ‘infusion rates’ of the pyramid and round tea bags after brewing for 40 seconds and for two minutes, which it said consumer research had shown was the two ‘top brewing times’ for the majority of Brits.
It said the results from a test in July 2013 showed the pyramid PG Tips tea bag had ‘significantly greater brewing efficiency’ than the round Tetley tea bag – substantiating the claim that pyramid tea bags ‘freed the great taste’.
PG Tips bosses also said the laboratory results showed that the pyramid tea bags had ’99 per cent more room to move around the cup’.
It also said that it did not refer to rivals Tetley in the advert and that the ad was not making a ‘direct comparison’ with Tetley, which it said ‘also has a pyramid-shape range of tea bags’.
According to research, 30.8 per cent of the tea bags sold in the UK are round, of which Tetley makes up half of all sales (for round tea bags).
Brits drink around 165m cups of tea a day and the value of the tea market in the UK alone is worth nearly £500m a year.
Tata Global Beverages sent its own evidence to the ASA which it claimed ‘demonstrated that there was no difference between the brewing efficiency of a pyramid and round tea bag’.
However, the ASA ruled against their complaint.
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