tIf you’re an active Twitter user, you’ve probably seen the hashtag, #RefreshinglyHonest, at some point or another.

Honest Tea, a popular brand of iced tea, used and is using this hashtag as a part of a huge online campaign in order to get people to buy their product. But it goes further than that.

The phrase “refreshingly honest,” is a very positive phrase, and can be attributed to many different things – photos, quotes, facts, you name it. Ultimately, the goal is to continue to increase sales, but another goal? Increase online transparency and honesty throughout communities. By using social media to do this, the company is able to connect people throughout the globe.

A few years ago, Honest Tea started a campaign that measured different American cities’ “honesty index,” by putting a what looks to be unguarded stands where people can take a bottle of tea on the honor system of paying $1. Obviously some people are there monitoring and measuring the data from the situation, but they are very covert. Their goal? To create a competition to find out which American city is the most honest.

 “Honest Tea is doing a social experiment, in cities all across the U.S., to see how #RefreshinglyHonest consumers in each city are by giving them the opportunity to donate $1 when they take a drink from our pop-up Honest Store.” -Honest Tea Brand Director Ami Mathur [1]

With social media, they were able to do just that. With the hashtag used on Twitter and Instagram, Honest Tea is able to get people engaged with the competition before they come to a city, during, and after their work is done in order to make it an actual competition.

The strategy behind the competition is incredible. Honesty is a virtue taught to American children from an extremely young age, so this competition encourages people to be more honest and hold themselves to better morals. But really, the competition is about the product, because there wouldn’t be an honesty competition in the first place without Honest Tea.

This social experiment is readily accessible to Americans because of social media. Step one is getting the consumers involved and aware of the campaign by using social media. Step two is actually conducting the experiment to measure the individual cities honesty indexes. They were able to conduct their experiment successfully and measure how the indexes change year to year. From their data, 2015’s cities with the highest honesty index were Atlanta and Indianapolis.

On the official Twitter page (@HonestTea), they tweet a few times each day a quote, photo, a video, or another form of media with the hashtag #RefreshinglyHonest. Here are a few examples:

Another reason this campaign is so powerful and successful is by the way the official Twitter interacts with it’s followers. It isn’t just there being a robot, per se. When I read tweets from the account, I hear a sweet voice (probably what they’d like me to hear as they sell sweet tea).

I see this campaign as an extreme success. Forbes ranked it as one of the top 3 best social media campaigns of 2015 in a recent article. Not only was it able to conduct a highly successful and nationally known social experiment that shed cities in very positive lights, it was able to engage a variety of consumers through social media. Users throughout the country would post inspiring messages or blatantly honest and true messages with the campaign’s hashtag at the end, #RefreshinglyHonest.

Further, another reason why the campaign was successful is because it promotes a positive message that everyone can relate to. It doesn’t seem like there is a very specific demographic it’s trying to reach, other than “people who drink tea,” which could be anybody. Men, women, children, elderly people, middle aged people, students – everybody can relate to the honesty message. It was mentioned earlier before, but one of the most clever, thoughtful, powerful, and engaging tweets from the campaign, says:

“Honest Kids – not just for kids. #RefreshinglyHonest”

Honesty is for everyone.

So is Honest Tea.

For more information, check out the following links:

[1] Forbes Article

Truthful Trend: See What Cities Topped Honest Tea’s 2015 National Honesty Index



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