Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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PG Tips

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PG Tips were first launched by Brooke Bond in 1930, although the Brooke Bond name has now been dropped from all packaging, focusing on the PG Tips brand name, and the international Lipton brand.

The "Tips" in the name refers to the fact that only the tips (the top two leaves and bud) of the tea plants are used in the blend.

A "Special Blend" tea, which is the same as the tea blended for the brand's 75th anniversary, is available in tea bag form only.

The tea used in PG Tips is imported in bulk as single estate teas from around the world and blended in precise proportions set by the tea tasters to make blend 777, which can contain between 12 and 35 single estate teas at any one time (depending on season, etc.) at the Trafford Park factory in Manchester.

In Scotland, Unilever sell a specially developed blend of PG, designed for the soft waters of Scotland. It is called Scottish Blend.

In the Republic of Ireland, Unilever sells tea under the Lyons brand.

PG Tips, Scottish Blend and Lyons teas are exported by Unilever UK Export, based in Unilever HQ Crawley, through a worldwide network of food distributors.

1930 PG Tips was first launched by Brooke Bond, at that time being known as Digestive.

WWII After the Second World War, labelling regulations ruled out describing tea as aiding digestion—a property previously attributed to tea—and Brooke Bondchanged the brand name to PRE-GEST-TEE (Taking the main elements of PRE-diGESTive TEA). This was shortened by the van salesmen to PG, and the name stuck, eventually being changed on the cartons sold to shops.

1950/1 By this time, the name PG Tips was officially adopted.

In the 1950s and 1960s, packets of Brooke Bond tea included illustrated tea cards, usually 50 in a series

1956 Advertisements featuring "talking" chimpanzees were started on TV.

1956 PG Tips began to advertise using chimpanzees dressed as humans and drinking tea: the "Tipps family". This is the longest running advertising campaign for any brand.

1984 Company was taken over by Unilever

1985 PG Tags, tea bags with a string, were launched.

1996 Pyramid-shaped (tetrahedron) tea bags were launched. The pyramid-shaped bag was specifically designed to help the tea leaves move more freely, as loose tea moves in a teapot, and create a better infusion. It has also been suggested that because one corner of the bag will, as a rule, bob naturally above the surface in a cup or mug, manual workers, especially builders, can remove the bag without the need for a spoon.

2002 A new campaign replaced the Tipps Family advertisement. This new campaign contained a house sharing group of claymation birds called the T-Birds, animated by Aardman, the company behind Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run. In Ireland these commercials were still airing in late 2006, though advertising Lyons Tea (another Unilever brand).

2005 PG Tips became a major partner with Wallace and Gromit's first film The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, launched in October. PG offered "Gromit" mugs on pack in the supermarket. According to The Grocer magazine, Unilever reported that during this "Gromit" mug promotion, PG Tips sales increased 600 percent. Wallace and Gromit also appeared in an advert with Lady Tottingham (another character from the film) around the same time.

2007 In May, Unilever became the first company to commit to sourcing all its tea in sustainable manner. To that extent, the company asked the Rainforest Alliance, an international environmental NGO to start certifying tea estates in East Africa.

2008 As of February, PG Tips packs have been carrying a seal saying 'At least 50% of this tea comes from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms'. The company states that by 2010, all its tea will be Rainforest Alliance certified. An advertising campaign supporting the initiative was launched at the same time, including two new TV ads with Monkey and Al. At the same time, Monkey starred in a 10 minute documentary-style advertisement called 'A Tale of Two Continents' which was only shown in cinemas and online.

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