Saturday, February 02, 2013

Twinings did it again!

Hi All, I long ago gave up on this struggle. I don't drink Earl Grey much any more. When I do, I drink Trader Joe's. Nowadays, I'll drink a cup of Lipton before I'll drink Twinings Earl Grey. I'm almost embarrassed to admit it.

Thanks to a fresh comment, I decided to Google around and see if there's anything new to report. I learned, to my surprise, that there was a big hullaballo last year in the UK - because Twinings was crazy enough to change the blend there as well. Only in the UK, they did it above board, announcing the change publicly.

The backlash was severe enough that Twinings relented, and re-released the "Classic" blend for purchase online. The Brits deserve credit for fighting the good fight.

Early Grey Classic = good

New Earl Grey = bad
(I've never tasted it, but the backlash is indicative)

Here's a link to the Facebook page devoted to the UK struggle: Bring Back the Original Twinings Earl Grey Tea

Here's a link to a Telegraph article covering the controversy: Earl Grey tea is back: Twinings gives in to outraged tea-drinkers

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Back at Long Last

Well, it's been 2.5 years since my last post. Busy-ness got the better of me - not much more to say there.

I am pleased, however, that interesting comments have continued to trickle in. I apologize that many were approved and posted belatedly. I dropped my old email account and forgot to update my blog profile.

Interestingly just a few weeks ago I received a renewed invitation from Twinings NA. Mr. Wayne Evans, a Vice President there, invited me over for a visit long ago, but I was unable to contact him to accept the offer. Last month, he invited me back, this time including his email address.

Dear Sir,

Forgive me if you thought my previous offer disingenuous and I apologise for not providing detailed contact information.

Again, please accept my invitation to join us at Twinings North America. I would personally like to join you in a cup of Earl Grey while explaining the Twinings approach to blending what we believe to be some of the finest teas in the world and discussing your concerns about our beloved Earl Grey.

Please email me at *** to arrange a convenient time to meet.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Wayne Evans

I'm redacting his email address, because posting it would be a sure way to get his inbox inundates with spam (if it isn't already). But I figure I'll drop him a line and see what happens.

If he and I connect, I'll post the results. In the meantime, keep the comments coming.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Ruder Finn's Response

I never got any direct response from Ruder Finn, but I checked the link today and they have withdrawn the page. I would have preferred a formal retraction or public apology, but I suppose they ascribe to the school of thought that PR folks never admit a mistake. See for yourself: Since this will just take you to a 404 screen, check out my post on 12/29/07 for a snapshot of what was originally posted at that web address.

Interestingly, a some additional digging revealed that Ruder Finn is, or at least was, the lead PR firm for Twinings in the United States. On Sept 12 2005, it was announced that Ruder Finn was hired by Twinings specifically to tout Twinings' 300th Anniversary (which coincided with the rollout of new packaging, new flavors, and in my opinion, lower quality Earl Grey). Here is an excerpt from a press release:

"Ruder Finn impressed us with their knowledge of the tea market and the creativity of their concepts for such a significant anniversary," said Michael Cobb, marketing director for Twinings North America, Inc. "Their relationships with key media and the team's experience in the food and beverage industry will help increase awareness of Twinings as a leader in the tea arena. In addition, they have excellent experience delivering world-class corporate anniversary programs for a variety of clients."

See PRNewswire for the full press release.

Here is the email I sent to Ruder Finn, for those interested.

From: save twinings <> Mailed-By:
Date: Dec 31, 2007 4:54 PM
Subject: False Statements on your website


I am the owner/writer of a blog entitled Save Twinings ( You reference my blog as a case study on your website, here:

Your case study is incorrect. I have never visited Twinings, though I would be interested in doing so. I have not agreed I was mistaken - I maintain my suspicion that Twinings changed the formula of the tea. Finally, I have not stopped my campaign.

I would appreciate it if you post a correction to your website. If these statements were true, I wouldn't mind you using your work as a case study. They are, however, false, and I oppose the propagation of misinformation by any source, but particularly by public relations and advertising professionals.

thank you,
Save Twinings

Saturday, December 29, 2007

SAVE TWININGS Has Become a Public Relations "Case Study"

A PR Firm named Ruder Finn at some point posted a "case study" about their intervention with my blog. Apparently, they think I traveled to Twinings HQ, was convinced of the error of my ways, and stopped my campaign. And, of course, Ruder Finn wants to take credit for this magnificent PR maneuver. Unfortunately, it's just plain wrong.

You can find the site here: Ruder Finn: A Case Study in How to Screw up a PR Case Study

Here's a snippet - the relevant part not surrounded by the additional promotional stuff pasted all over their site, plus my handy calendar app showing the date and time I viewed the site (sorry, I know there are more sophisticated ways of time stamping a website).

NOTE (1/20/08): the web page has been pulled by Ruder Finn, but you can still find traces of it on Google 's cache.

The truth is no different than what I've already stated in this blog. I did receive a post on this blog from a VP at Twinings, just as Ruder Finn states. I was invited to visit Twinings HQ in New Jersey, which delighted me. However, I was given no contact info, and though I made attempts to connect with this VP, s/he made no further effort to connect with me. I was actually disappointed - I live close enough that a trip to Twinings could be a fun afternoon with the fam. But I moved on and assumed the invitation was disingenuous.

This begs several questions:

(a) Is Ruder Finn just shilling this story in an attempt to better sell themselves to the highest corporate bidder?

(b) Has Ruder Finn duped Twinings into paying for PR services rendered to supposedly change my mind?

(c) Has Ruder Finn been duped by someone pretending to be me--someone who went to Twinings HQ, said she had changed her mind and promised not to write negatively about Twinings any longer?

In any case, it looks like I need a PR ally on my side to set the record straight. Any recommendations?

p.s. Thanks to the anonymous tipster who clued me in to the Ruder Finn website.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

"What else would you expect a salesman to say to you?"

That was the first sentence of a comment I received today. It is a great point, and one I have been meaning ot bring up for several days now.

On November 5, I posted comments I received from one Wayne Evans, a VP of Sales and Marketing at Twinings North America. He denied any changes to the Earl Grey blend, and invited me to visit the Twinings NA headquarters, so that they could "restore [my] faith in Twinings and further enhance [my] enjoyment of [their] teas."

At the time, I was optimistic that the offer was sincere. A family field trip to Twinings could be fun. That and an overly-developed sense of fairness motivated me to post his comments in full. However, it soon dawned on me that this fellow offered no contact information whatsoever. Was I supposed to print his comments out and carry them with me to the doorstep of Twinings NA? Maybe if I explained the situation to some random customer service representative they would be able to transfer me directly to his extension? So I invited Mr. Evans, via this blog, to contact me privately through email in order to set something up.

Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised that he has not responded. Once I posted his comments, his "friendly" message--and utter denial--was there for the world to see. His job as Marketer to the Masses was complete. Oh well, so I'm a dupe.

Meanwhile, comments continue to roll in from people who have noticed some change in their enjoyment of Twinings Earl Grey and have done a quick Google search to find out if they are alone. In fact, you are not. Thanks to all for writing in.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Gift from the Fam

My sister is no tea connoisseur. You'll see in "About Me" that I grew up on southern sweet tea. My sister did as well. Her interest in tea has never moved beyond that. So, though she's never said as much, I expect she thinks this little blog of mine is a bit quixotic.

Consequently, I was really touched this week when I opened a box from her and found... several boxes of Twinings tea (Earl Grey, of course) in the original packaging. Apparently, when I told her months ago of my frustration over the Twinings changes, she began scouring local groceries for the last remnants of the old tea. I suppose that in the South, where she now lives, stocks of Twinings and other fancy teas stay on the shelves longer than they do here in NYC.

Anyway, this week I was able to have a nice hot cuppa of Twinings Earl Grey from the original packaging. And I instantly noticed that the tea simply tasted better. Stronger, more flavor. A little bitter--which is good, and entirely lacking from tea out of the new packaging.

I still haven't undertaken more "scientific" testing, but this experience reassures me that the whole point of this blog remains valid. Further, comments continue to trickle in from all over the U.S. People take a sip of Twinings Earl Grey, and are so disappointed by the flavor that they do a little digging on Google to see if anybody else has had the same experience.

I still haven't heard back from Wayne Evans, the VP at Twinings who posted below. I hope the post was legit, and I do look forward to speaking with him more if he reaches out. I'll keep y'all posted.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Response from Twinings

I have just received a comment from Wayne Evans, a VP at Twinings North America. Due to problems with Blogger, I haven't been able to get it posted as he originally submitted, but I'll paste it here in its entirety:

Dear Sir,
I read your blog with interest and thank you for your obvious passion for tea and for Twinings. As VP Sales and Marketing for Twinings NA I can assure you that we have made no changes to the Earl Grey blend. I note that you live in NYC and would like to extend an invitation to join us in our offices in New Jersey to discuss this further. We would welcome the opportunity to restore your faith in Twinings and further enhance your enjoyment of our teas.

And a response to Wayne: Thanks for your comment and your interest. I would be interested in a field trip to Jersey, so maybe we should connect more directly. You can email me at savetwinings (at) gmail (dot) com.

NOTE: See post dated 12/16/06 for a follow-up regarding the submission from Mr. Evans.

Sorry - Blogger is Broken

Hello All,

Many apologies, but for the last few days, and possibly many more to come, Blogger is broken. For example, I have received a few comments that Blogger won't let me publish, and I can't add any comments of my own. So please check back in after a week or so. I want to hear what you have to say, and I have some thoughts of my own to share. And in the meantime, if you can complain to Google (which owns Blogger), that would be great too.