Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Wade Whimsies of Red Rose Tea

Whoever would have thought that adding a free wade whimsy to a pack of tea would not only revive sales but become so popular that one promotion originally proposed for two to three years would span four decades, numerous issues and many countries? Enter the Canadian Red Rose Tea company.

Way back in 1967 the idea of using Wade miniatures as free premiums in packs of Red Rose Tea in Quebec Canada was born. Popularity for these Red Rose Tea Wade whimsies was so great that the initial issue of twelve models was extended into a series of thirty-two and the promotional area extended throughout Canada.

This promotion consisted of Wade whimsy miniature animals. The very early models from this issue can be distinguished from the later ones due to the fact that the “Wade England” back stamp is on the bottom of the model in a recess. In later models the back stamp appears along the rim of the model.

Also there were two different versions of the rabbit made, the earliest version has closed ears which Wade craftsmen found difficult to tidy up around the ceramic casting. So another version of rabbit was introduced this time with open ears.

It is worth mentioning that not just in the Red Rose Tea Wade whimsies but with many other Wade whimsy issues two seemingly identical models turn up. These models look very alike apart from their obvious size difference. This was due to original moulds breaking or wearing out and being replaced by smaller ones.

If you think the models look familiar then you would be correct. The majority of the Red Rose Tea Wade Whimsy promotion was re-issued as the English Whimsies 1971-1984 collection. Also Red Rose teas sister company in the United Kingdom Brook Bond followed suit and used the frog, butterfly and fan tailed goldfish for a promotion of its own. Plus the terrapin and crocodile (or alligator as shown in an advertisement for Red Rose tea from the 1960s) was previously used in the Flintstones Christmas cracker promotion ran by Balding and Mansell in 1965.

This first Red Rose tea promotion ran from 1967 to 1973 and was so successful that it was decided that they would begin another promotion again using Wade whimsies as free premiums in their packaging of the tea.

This second promotional issue was originally rolled out in selected areas of Canada and comprised a series of twenty-four Wade Whimsy nursery rhyme characters; however as before it was such a hit with Red Rose Tea drinkers that in 1973 the promotion was once again extended throughout Canada.

It is reported that over twenty million Red Rose Tea Wade whimsy nursery rhyme models were made. And once again they were used by other firms as part of their promotions one such promotion was by Lever Rexona in New Zealand as part of a Signal toothpaste promotion in the early 1970s.

The Red Rose Tea Wade Whimsy Miniature nursery rhyme promotion ran from 1972 till 1979. In 1981 the company used the excess models from the English Whoppa series that had just came to an end as their next promotion. However this time in their third promotional issue they changed their tactics.

Instead of giving away the Wade whimsy as a free premium inside the packaging of the tea, the Red Rose tea company asked collectors to send in promotional tabs from the tea boxes themselves along with $1 to cover the postage costs. The Wade whimsy Whoppa was then sent out in a small box.

In 1982 the fourth and last Red Rose Tea Canadian Wade whimsies issue was issued. It lasted for two years until 1984 and comprised again of miniature animals. Six models from the very first Red Rose Tea Canadian promotion were given a colour glaze makeover. The other seventeen models that made up this fourth issue of twenty-three animal models were from the English whimsies series.

This however this is not the end of the story.

Due to the popularity of the Canadian Red Rose Tea Wade whimsy free premium promotions the promotions were extended out into the United States of America in 1983 were they continued to remain as popular as in Canada. Even today there exists a Red Rose tea Wade whimsy promotion entitled Pet shop Friends, issued in 2006.

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