Chobani Kicks Off Second Creative Agency Review This Year

Greek Yogurt Maker Tipped to Increase Budget as It Fends Off Big Rivals

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As it faces steeper competition in a fast-growing category, Greek yogurt marketer Chobani is undertaking its second creative-agency review this year.

Chobani yogurt
Chobani yogurt

"We recently amped up our internal marketing and communications team, adding a deep bench of world-class professionals to mirror a traditional agency model," the company said in a statement. "With this agency review, we are looking to match our internal strength with a partner who shares our vision to provide people with access to delicious and nutritious food."

Chobani, which is the top-selling Greek brand in the U.S., had moved the account to Boston-based independent agency Boathouse in February after a short stint with Leo Burnett, New York. Boathousewill not be considered in the review, according to a Chobani spokeswoman. Ark Advisors in New York is supporting the search.

Ark referred calls to the client. Boathouse was not immediately available to comment.

Chobani's new marketing leadership includes Brad Charron, a former marketer for Under Armour, who was named Chobani's senior VP-marketing in April. Marketing was previously led by Doron Stern, who left late last year.

Under Boathouse, Chobani earlier this year debuted a campaign called "Go Real," which positioned the brand as an authentic strained yogurt made with natural ingredients. Chobani was an early pioneer in Greek, debuting in 2007 when the segment represented only about 2% of total yogurt sales. Greek now accounts for about 43% of yogurt sales, according to Bernstein Research. And Chobani is fighting off new competition from food giants trying to grow their Greek shares after a late start.

General Mills, for instance, is relaunching its Greek variety using a more traditional straining process that is more similar to Chobani's method. Meanwhile, PepsiCo has begun national advertising and distribution for its Müller yogurt brand, which is being sold in the U.S. as part of a partnership with Germany's Theo Müller Group that is called called Müller Quaker Dairy. Juniper Park created the Muller TV ads, while OMD handles media planning and buying.

"Our marketing strategy is straightforward -- introduce consumers to the brand and get them to try one of our three delectable product lines, like our one-of-a-kind Müller FrütUp, Müller Greek Corner or Müller Corner with lowfat yogurt," Quaker Dairy's CMO Barb Yehling said in a statement to Ad Age.

As the playing field gets more crowded, Chobani looks poised to significantly boost its marketing and media outlays. The marketer is prepared to spend to around $70 million next year on media, according to industry executives who have been briefed on the matter. The company declined to discuss its spending plans. According to Kantar Media, the brand spent $27.7 million on domestic measured media in 2012. Chobani last year surpassed $1 billion in sales, according to the company.

Some of the spending is likely to come during the Olympics. The brand, which signed up as an Olympic sponsor in 2012, will be back in that role for the 2014 games.

The agency review does not impact the yogurt brand's media account, which is held by a team within OMG.

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