Dannon will debut its first Super Bowl ad on Sunday, promoting its Oikos brand of Greek yogurt.
The move seems a little debatable on the surface. Oikos is a small brand, with nothing close to the size or reach of big Super Bowl advertisers such as Budweiser, Toyota or Samsung. Other small food brands have advertised on the Super Bowl in the past but few return. Tabasco, Planters, Emerald Nuts and Pop Secret all came and went. The learning is pretty clear: the Super Bowl isn’t an efficient spend for these sorts of brands.
But Dannon’s move actually makes perfect sense.
For many years, Dannon and General Mills’ Yoplait brand led the U.S. yogurt category. Stonyfield Farm shook things up a bit but then Dannon gained control of Stonyfield in 2001.
Over the past three years, however, the competitive dynamics in yogurt have changed dramatically as two new brands, Chobani and Fage, have come on the scene.
Chobani and Fage are both Greek yogurts, much thicker and richer than typical yogurts in the U.S. market. Dannon and Yoplait were quick to dismiss these products, but Chobani and Fage caught on. Chobani is now the #1 brand of yogurt in the United States with more than a ten percent market share and growing quickly. Fage has more than four percent of the U.S. market and continues to grow. Both brands are investing in building new factories to meet demand.
This is a disastrous situation for Dannon and Yoplait; the companies stand to lose millions in profits if Chobani and Fage continue stealing share.
What does that mean for game day?
Dannon is now fighting back. The company is heavily promoting its Oikos brand, directly attacking Chobani with taste claims and promotional support.
Dannon’s Super Bowl ad is just one part of the defensive effort. It will build Oikos, certainly. Perhaps more importantly, it sends a rather clear signal to retailers, investors and executives at Chobani and Fage that Dannon is going to fight for share.
In Dannon’s Super Bowl ad, actor John Stamos is knocked to the ground by a pleasant, likable lady. It is a pretty good illustration of what pleasant, likeable Dannon hopes to do to Chobani and Fage.