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Why are the Chanui ads so fucking weird?

Lucy Zee pours a cup of tea and delves into the creepy slow-burn that is the Chanui ad universe.

Can we just all agree straight away: the Chanui ads are really fucking weird.

Basically it’s just a guy telling us to buy his tea and about three people seemingly held at gunpoint telling the camera why they love the tea so much.

But why does something that sounds so simple, be so sinister? What is it exactly about the Chanui ads that have the NZ public so outraged?

Sure the host, Doug Hastie, may not be your traditional, attractive, well-spoken presenter – but he is the creator of the product. It appears that he’s trying to take a more honest, genuine approach with the public about his tea.

If the ad had stopped there, it might have flown under the radar and everyone would have been able to sleep soundly at night. Unfortunately, what starts off as an awkward low budget advert takes a turn for the worst. Three people appear on camera and talk about how much they love Chanui.

“I.. I love Chanui tea, it’s a great taste.”

“BEST tea in New Zealand mate.”

“I’m a committed fan.”

Who are these people? Are they actors? Paid strangers? Family friends doing a favour? Or are they genuine Chanui-heads?

Chanui also released an ad for their green tea range and another for their biscuitswhich boldly announces they are the “best tasting biscuits.” Again, this is followed by a bunch of frightened-looking people, telling the camera how much they love the product. The ads kept coming, the same style, the same awkward host, the same forced message that Chanui is the best.

I went on their official website, the news section has not been updated since 2011 but it goes as far back as 2002 and mentions a trip to Japan where Doug Hastie meets his Japanese wife for the first time.  

There was only one way to end the madness, I was going to have to try Chanui tea and biscuits for myself.

My very helpful flatmate purchased a box of English breakfast (this is what his mum drinks apparently) and two packets of biscuits (Anzac and Gingernut).

As soon as you open the “distinctive” black Chanui box, inside in red writing say “New Zealand’s best tea.” I rarely drink tea but when I do, I take it strong with lots of milk. I am expecting to get some real serious hate for this, but I like to leave the bag in the entire time.

While waiting for my tea to steep, I watched the Chanui ad again. After the sixth watch and frame by frame scrutiny, it’s still really bad but I still couldn’t put my finger on exactly what. I thought to myself, how do I quell this sense of unease?

I took another sip of my tea and pondered some more.

Do I hate these ads because I’m a pessimistic, disillusioned, negative person who believes anyone speaking positively about something is a liar? I dunked my biscuits in the tea and wondered. Maybe I feel annoyed that someone would so freely and unabashedly bare their soul on national television for something as small as tea. Growing up I was taught to keep my opinions to myself.

In the What The People Are Saying page on their website, there are a heap of unbelievably good reviews. I even went as far as to Facebook stalk as many as I could, just to double check they were real people. They all exist. I tried to find any family or work connections, stumbling through page after page of family group pages and Rarotonga family photos. I came up with nothing, except for the fact that everyone bar one woman in the first few ads are white.

I was going in way too deep but I couldn’t stop, the tea and biscuits were fueling me to keep going. I drank cup after cup and demolished both packets of biscuits… and that’s when it hit me. The answer to this whole freakish Chanui fandom was right in front of me.

The tea is actually good.

The biscuits are actually good.

These people aren’t actors, they’re genuine fans of Chanui.

The tea is subtle in flavour, but tastes quite fresh.

The Anzac cookies were crunchy, the texture of the oats and coconut added so much depth and you can taste the golden syrup especially around the crispier edges.

The Gingernut cookies had an awesome snap, they don’t break your teeth and the ginger flavour tastes way fresher and much more warming than others I’ve had. Best of all, it soaks up tea really well without it going super soggy straight away.

The ad is very clear and very simple because, the product is clearly, simply, good.

This article is not sponsored in any way by Chanui. I genuinely love it and my new goal is to be in a Chanui ad and join the Chanui Cult. Forever. 


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