Leo Burnett, OMD Expected to Take Home Chobani

Greek Yogurt Brand's Creative and Media Review Comes to a Close

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Publicis Groupe 's Leo Burnett and Omnicom's OMD are expected to win creative and media duties for Chobani yogurt after a review, according to people familiar with the matter.

Chobani yogurt
Chobani yogurt

The move comes as the No. 1-selling yogurt brand in the U.S. beefs up its marketing investment -- an effort to support growth and stave off competition in the burgeoning Greek-yogurt category.

In step with growing consumer demand, Chobani's marketing budget is expected to more than double in the coming months. In the first half of 2011, Chobani only spent about $9 million on measured media, according to Kantar.

OMD referred calls for comment to the client. Leo Burnett and Chobani execs did not respond by press time.

It's understood that the brand held separate but simultaneous media and creative reviews. The creative finalists included Publicis Groupe 's Leo Burnett, Havas' Arnold Worldwide and WPP's Grey .

The creative account was previously handled by Interpublic's Gotham , but the marketer launched a review after Gotham 's CEO, Peter McGuinness, left the agency to helm DDB Chicago. It was believed that Gotham was originally not invited to defend the account, but Chobani later agreed to have Gotham pitch.

It's also understood that neither of the recent reviews will impact the standing of Chobani's other roster shops, including indie digital shop Big Spaceship, recently added to handle Chobani's Champions kids brand yogurt, or its PR agency, Omnicom Group's Fleishman-Hillard.

The win is the third for Leo Burnett in as many months. In the second half of the year, the agency won the Fifth Third and Esurance accounts after an otherwise dormant 2011 on the new-business front. Chobani is expected to be out of the New York office. Leo Burnett opened its New York office earlier this year in what the agency billed as a move to attract talent to the network's U.S. operation.

For OMD, the Chobani win comes on the heels of winning the $180 million Bel Brands account, which includes the Laughing Cow brand.

Chobani earlier this year became the best-selling brand of yogurt, where it still sits with more than 10% market share, according to SymphonyIRI (which does not include Walmart sales). It's beating out Greek-yogurt rival Fage, along with category stalwarts Dannon and Yoplait. And while Chobani sits atop the yogurt category, the explosive growth of the Greek-yogurt trend means an influx of competition by big marketers with hefty ad budgets -- such as Dannon and Yoplait, as well as Kraft, who's reentering yogurt with Athenos -- who are looking to cash in on the Greek-yogurt craze, albeit a little late.

Chobani parent company Argo Farma was founded by Hamdi Ulukaya, who came to the U.S. from Turkey in 1994 to go to college. He eventually got into the yogurt business because he could not find good-tasting varieties like the kind made on his family's dairy farm back in his homeland.

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