Things have hotted up in the tea and coffee sector over the past few weeks. Advertising spend across the category has tripled to more than £3.2m compared with the same period last year. Yet, before this period, spend had been tracking at about 25% behind last year.

So what has changed and why are we seeing serious investment in advertising spend now? Perhaps hoping the colder autumn weather and the credit crunch will persuade consumers to stay in and put the kettle on, Nescafé, PG Tips and Douwe Egberts all upped their TV spend while keeping their press spend minimal. There is remarkably little use of combined TV and press spend in the sector, with brands focusing on either one or the other.

In the four weeks to October 5 Nescafé invested the most, spending nearly £1.7m almost exclusively on TV. This dwarfed PG Tips, which had been far more active in the previous months of the year. Perhaps the biggest shift in strategy came from Douwe Egberts, which spent almost half of its year-to-date advertising budget in the four weeks to 5 October alone. It invested more than £400,000 on ITV with an ad for its Pure Gold instant coffee to compete with Nescafé’s heavyweight activity.

The visually elegant campaign by Nescafé broke on 1 September with 30-second TV ads and later 10-second versions seeking to ‘awaken our senses with the new intense aromas of the Nescafé collection’ across all the main channels. More recently, Nescafé has also been pushing its Skinny Cappuccino brand on TV.

Meanwhile, Johnny Vegas and his monkey sidekick were busy urging us all to drink tea. The comedy double act returned to screens in mid-August. Outside these three big brands, budgets have been more modest and focused on press rather than TV. However, spend is still up, with Kenco hugely increasing its spend compared with last year. Rombouts and Taylors of Harrogate, which owns Yorkshire Tea, also increased their activity.

The brand that is conspicuous by its absence in this brewing battle is the self-proclaimed ‘everyone’s cup of tea’, Tetley. Will it respond to this increased activity by bringing back its ‘strong granny’ TV ad from earlier in the year?