When you think of President-Elect Obama, Rod Watkins wants you to think about his New Leaf line of tea drinks. Watkins, the operations and international manager for the New Leaf tea company, believes this is not a far-fetched idea. He believes in this so much his company is sponsoring a ball—the HBC’s-New Leaf Inaugural Ball to be held at Trinity on January 20.
The ball may be focused on historically black colleges, but Watkins is using the function as one big product placement. Guests, Watkins says, will be offered free samples of his Snapple-like beverage. When they enter the ball, they will get to select from 11 different flavors such as honey-dew melon and the company’s own “Moteato,” a mint-and-lime flavored tea.
It takes me forever to figure out what Watkins means by Moteato. I marveled at that word during our interview. I marvel at it now. Watkins seems to want me to mention that they are organically sweetened. But back to the ball sponsorship. “It sounded right,” Watkins says. “Everything about it. It’s a chance to move forward with not only our product but getting the name out there and it’s nice being a part of a change in U.S. history.”
New Leaf, which has started up in 1990 in New York and other east coast markets, is a perfect fit for the new administration. “It’s not really that we’re trying to cash in on it,” Watkins says. “We’re being there in support of the event….It’s a way of thanking everybody for coming out. Our slogan is actually ‘Turn Over A New Leaf’ which is what we’re doing as a country.”