Yoplait revisits familiar terrain

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Yoplait is a woman thing, and General Mills wants to show it understands.

Because women are the primary consumers of refrigerated yogurt, making up 60% of the category, General Mills has in the past developed taste-focused advertising for Yoplait with female-targeted themes. Most recently, Yoplait featured a dedicated spot to promote its "Save Lids to Save Lives" program, which sparks donations to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Now, with a spot tagged "How good is it?" General Mills once again pushes great taste along with uniquely female issues.

The campaign, from DDB Worldwide, Chicago, breaks this week and features two women bonding over Yoplait. Aiming to describe just how good the yogurt tastes (and to top one another), the women begin to make analogies such as, "It's like a first kiss," or "a long massage," or "shoe shopping." The back-and-forth ends with one friend's comment that, "It's so good it hurts" followed by the tagline, "Yoplait. It is so good."

According to Jordan Edelstein, assistant marketing manager for Yoplait, the new campaign is not a departure from previous efforts, but rather a way to freshen that positioning with new and relevant material.

"The intimacy of the women's relationship [in the spot] is something that's very approachable and relatable, and the analogies they play around with are things women really enjoy, which includes Yoplait," he said. "It's one of the more fun spots that we've done."

In addition to freshening its TV campaign for Yoplait, General Mills is updating the flavor roster for Yoplait Light, adding Passion Fruit Banana, Very Vanilla and Orange Creme varieties. In the spring, General Mills also plans to extend nationally the Yoplait Expresse brand it introduced recently in the Pacific Northwest. To tout the portable adult yogurt, a new campaign in the lead markets, also from DDB, focuses on the product as a great snack with the copy, "Taste the excitement." The campaign will roll national following expanded distribution of the product.

The attention to Yoplait is intended to continue the momentum of the franchise, which has posted double-digit growth and surpassed longtime category leader Dannon Co. over the last couple of years, thanks to the introduction of Go-Gurt and the relentless focus on Yoplait products. General Mills spent $20 million in measured media on Yoplait during the period of January through August of 2000, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Yogurt is one of the best performers in General Mills' portfolio. A recent report from Credit Suisse First Boston analyst David Nelson showed General Mills' cereal volume fell 12.4% for the four weeks ended Dec. 3, while Kellogg's volume rose 7.7% in the same period. (General Mills still remains ahead in overall unit sales, 2.6 billion for the 52-week period ended Dec. 3, vs. Kellogg's 743 million, according to Information Resources Inc.)

But Mr. Nelson was quick to point out the strength in the company's non-cereal portfolio, primarily in yogurt. For the latest four-week period, General Mills saw volume gains of 6.6%, revenue increases of 10.1% and a 38% share compared to Dannon's 25%, according to Mr. Nelson. For the 52 weeks ended Dec. 3, the marketer saw sales for its refrigerated yogurt grow 20.2% to $734 million, compared with Dannon's 1.1% drop to $533 million, IRI figures show.

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