There are several well-known celebrities who have sung the praises of tea and gotten paid for it, presumably quite well. They include actor Hugh Jackman and rapper Eminem, who have done high-profile advertising campaigns for Lipton, and hockey great Wayne Gretzky, who has served as a spokesperson for Bigelow Tea. But those of us who live on the left side of the Atlantic might not be quite as familiar with certain imaginary tea advertising icons as our friends in the United Kingdom, where the Tetley Tea Folk and the PG Tips monkeys are quite well-known.
The Tetley Tea Folk, as their name suggests, were created to sell Tetley Tea, a company that first got into the business of tea in 1837. The animated tea folk came along nearly a century and a half later, in 1973 and were retired in 2001. However, this gang of seven made a triumphant return to the advertising trenches recently when Tetley decided to bring them out of retirement. Nowadays, given that this is the age of social media, the Folk have even got their own web site, Facebook presence and Twitter feed.
I haven’t been able to determine who the genius was who first came up with the notion of using monkeys in advertising. But the good people at PG Tips, the popular British tea merchants, have been using them in one form or another for more than a half century. Sometimes known as the Tipps family, this gang of chimps typically appeared dressed like humans and engaging in various wacky antics in the name of selling tea. When the concept was retired in 2002, it merited a listing in the Guiness Book of World Records as the longest running ad campaign of all time.
More recently PG Tips has called upon the services of a different sort of monkey to push their tea. Known simply (and fittingly) as Monkey, this spokesperson is an animated sock puppet who often appears in TV commercials with a human sidekick (or perhaps Monkey is the sidekick) known as Al.
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