Fuze Tea Blitzes Israel

by Brian on September 19, 2012

in A Parent in Israel,In the News

You would have to have been living in a cave, under a rock or in general paying no attention whatsoever to TV, radio, the Internet or billboards all over Israel during the past few weeks to have missed the hottest new beverage to hit supermarket shelves. Or more to the point, the hottest old beverage.

Fuze Tea is essentially a complete re-branding of the venerable Nestea brand. Its advertising campaign emphasizes that it’s the “same taste” just with a “new name.” The emergence of Fuze comes from a divorce between Coca-Cola and Nestle, which jointly produced the old Nestea. Under the agreement, Nestle gets the name while Coke gets the taste.

The new teas and names are global (one video ad playing online features scores of happy young people from around the world enthusiastically downing Fuze Tea; a Hebrew voice over plays only at the end). While only Fuze Team has been aggressively promoted so far in Israel, Nestle plans a campaign for its new tasting Nestea later this year.

That should be interesting – reminiscent as it is of the New Coke debacle some thirty years ago. Blind taste tests then found consumers preferred New Coke over the original, but the change in the formula of such a classic brand was too much for soft drink imbibers to stomach.

When I first arrived in Israel, I was unfamiliar with the Nestea brand. I assumed that it was a uniquely Israeli beverage: “nes” is Hebrew for “miracle” and Nescafe was generally understood to mean “miracle coffee.” So too with the tea, I figured.

When Coke and Nestle split, the initial plan appears to have been to roll out a different Fuze product: Coca-Cola had bought a company by that name with its own line of vitamin-enhanced juices. But the name morphed to cover the old Nestea taste and, at least in Israel, the Fuze juices are not available.

Haaretz looked into the marketing of Fuze Tea in Israel and lauded Coca-Cola’s efforts. Within just two weeks of the ad campaign’s start, Fuze Tea grabbed 61 percent of the iced tea market. The campaign was so fierce that the market share of ice teas as a chunk of beverages in general shot up, including local competitors Tempo and Jafora-Tabori’s Spring Tea.

According to Haaretz, some of the success of Fuze Tea is that it is packaged in the same bottles as the old Nestea, which have a distinctive ribbed design. Tests have shown that if you pour a competing cola into one of Coke’s trademarked bottles, people will assume it’s Coke.

In our house, the switch to Fuze Tea has been relatively seamless, albeit not with a little initial giggling between gulps. “Please pass the Nestea, er, the Fuze Tea, yuck, yuck.” But after a couple of weeks, it’s Fuze all the way with nary a stutter, intentional or otherwise.

By the way, in case you were wondering, “what were they thinking with the name,” despite the egregious misspelling, Coca-Cola did indeed have “infuse” in mind. From the Fuze Tea website: “We infuse our tea with fruit, taste, with you, with joy and with imagination.”

I’m not sure what it has to do with tea, but it certainly took some imagination to come up with that line…

I fuzed it up on Israelity too.

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