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One More Note from Baltimore: The Questionable Taste of Nestea (in Bus Stop Ads)

April 4, 2009

In Baltimore this week, my colleagues and I all did double-takes complete with internal “what the…?” at the sight of some bus stop ads for Nestea’s red tea. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the *exact* wording, and this is a situation in which guessing is not somewhere I really want to go. However, to the best of my recollection -and I am happy to be corrected- the ads read:”Nestea Red Tea: Tasty and Exotic, Like We Bottled A Foreign Exchange Student. Liquid Awesomeness.”

Now, it’s the “tasty and exotic” part where I’m not 100% sure of the wording, and I’m just going to go ahead and apologize now if I somehow am remembering it incorrectly.

I didn’t have my camera so I don’t have a photo to share, which is probably a good thing. I’m just going to walk away before I make a million comments along the lines of the ads being unsavory and leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

Update: It’s actually “Tasty and foreign, like we bottled an exchange student.” Lavendertook found an image of the ad on flickr as well.

21 Comments leave one →
  1. April 5, 2009 12:56 am

    WTF exactly. I think it was “Tasty and Foreign, Like we bottled a College Exchange Student.”

    I saw this today at a DC Bus shelter and was dismayed and just googled to see if anyone else has commented on this.

  2. April 5, 2009 7:12 am

    Ooh, thank you for finding that. I’ll fix the post. Looks like they *are* using “exotic” in other venues to talk about the product.

  3. April 5, 2009 9:26 am

    That’s … remarkable. Also remarkable is the fact that they seem to expect a lot of people to be watching that No. 1 Ladies’ Detective show on HBO and wanting to try some of the tea. I am sort of icked out in every direction.

  4. Rita permalink
    April 10, 2009 5:22 pm

    I was also offended — especially when a female colleague posted it on her FB page as funny. It’s not only demeaning, but makes exchange students (male and female) into a commodity. Same old objectification of women(tho no gender is specified) that we fought against in the 70s.

    • savannah permalink
      December 16, 2009 2:24 pm

      listen Rita…dont be silly. like everyone else has said.. it was meant to be funny! I am an exchange student right now, and i think it is hilarious, and so do all my other exchange friends from all over the world.

  5. April 14, 2009 1:43 pm

    OMG my co-workers and I saw this as we were coming in from lunch today and I made it my business to get an email over to this company! This is a disgrace and I am absolutely offended by it!

  6. Senior L. permalink
    April 20, 2009 1:16 pm

    You guys are ridiculous. Ready to whine about anything that isn’t 100% PC. Weak. I think this campaign is stupid, but it’s not offending me. Exoticism and mystery surround those who come from other lands, and this campaign tastelessly plays with that notion. Quit getting so bent out of shape every time your plastic, prideful ‘should i be offended-meter’ beeps.

  7. April 20, 2009 3:04 pm

    Oh, y’all, Senior L has it all figured out. We couldn’t possibly remark that we don’t appreciate something without it being some over-the-top “bent out of shape” reactionary drivel from our “should I be offended?” meters. Weaksauce!

    Although…Senior L. does say that the ad is “stupid” and “tasteless,” so apparently having an opinion is okay, as long as you’re Senior L.

    See also:
    FAQ: Why are you concentrating on X when Y is so much more important?

  8. April 20, 2009 4:15 pm

    As someone who came to the U.S. as a foreign student, I will say that I do not consider the ad offensive. It is certainly zany but does not smack of racism. Au contraire, it is creative advertising campaigns such as these— that attach playful but positive tags to foreigners (i.e., “tasty”)—which can help mitigate the mild, albeit growing xenophobic sentiments against foreigners working on H1-B visas in corporate America today.

  9. April 21, 2009 6:18 am

    As a Latina who has been an exchange student in two countries, this reminds me of drunk, middleaged men chatting me up in pubs. Of professors making jokes at my expense. Of jokes about stereotypes related to my country and my culture. Of people who assume that just because my country is a holiday destination, we live in a permanent holiday.

    The idea of “bottling a exchange student” and using it to suggest something nice like a sweet drink isn’t just offensive. It’s scary. Do people honestly think that we travel to the other end of the world for their amusement?

    • April 21, 2009 7:02 am

      Nia, thank you for your comment – you said it much better than I could have.

  10. an exchange student permalink
    November 16, 2009 11:07 am

    as an ex-exchange student, i didn’t find it offensive at all. in fact, a HUGE amount of my exchange student friends found it absolutely hilarious.

    it is not poking fun at a country or labelling any individual country as a holiday destination, it speaks of exchange students – the people themselves. and yeah, foreign people are more ‘tasty’ and ‘interesting’, etc. there’s a reason americans find the french accent sexy, and a reason that a lot of francophones find the american accent sexy.

    the ad is silly. stupid, immature, awesome, whatever you want to label it, it’s done in a lighthearted manner. lets lighten up, be happy, and laugh at things!

  11. Exchange Student permalink
    December 4, 2009 1:15 pm

    As a not one, two, but three time exchange student, I don’t find this offensive at all. I must ask however, why would you find it offensive. Were you ever an exchange student? If you were, and you had a bad experience, I’m sorry, but that ad doesn’t make it offensive to everybody else. If you’ve never been an exchange student, then you have no reason to find it offensive.

    Any one who has the courage to go abroad is quite courageous, and most likely they don’t have a problem with change or different view points, so this isn’t a problem.

    Exchange students are liquid awesomeness.

    • December 4, 2009 5:45 pm

      “If you’ve never been an exchange student, then you have no reason to find it offensive.” – By this logic, white people should never note anything as racist, men should never call out sexism…

    • Exchange Student permalink
      December 7, 2009 2:41 pm

      And by this logic, you twist words. It’s a bus ad. Chill. Live a little, and learn how to take a joke =] Smile when it comes to your face, and know when something is meant as an embrace, and when something isn’t right.

  12. permalink
    October 12, 2011 4:28 pm

    i was an exchange student and i still spend time with exchange students every day. every single one of them found this ad just hilarious and just funny! 🙂 so relax, why would a non exchange student be offended by this ad anyway?

    • October 14, 2011 7:26 am

      Some women laugh at jokes about how women are bitches and whores, too – the logic doesn’t really hold that that makes those okay. Likewise, men should be offended by the hatefulness and prejudice inherent in those same jokes, and all people should work to recognize to oppose the objectification of others, not just those directly objectified by it.

      • Tasty Tealicker permalink
        February 11, 2012 1:52 pm

        Wow, did the Nestea add REALLY offend you that much? Or is this just another chance for you to debate what you inherently believe to be right. If the majority of those who you feel should be offended by this are not, than perhaps your concerns are unnecessary. Lighten up lady!

  13. Sarah permalink
    August 3, 2012 8:59 pm

    The only thing I find offensive about Nestea’s bottled tea is that no matter what flavor, they are all nasty and disgusting. I can’t believe people drink this sh** and think it tastes good. If there should be a ban, it should be on all their products. Yuck. And, just to stay on topic, I am sure that it wasn’t Nestea’s intention to harm anyone or offend. Quite honestly, I can think of much more important things to get whipped up about rather than some sillyazz ad from Nestea. LMAO


  1. Foreign exchange students = tasty | Working World

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