Super Bowl

Chips, Nuts ... And Yogurt? Dannon Wants To Churn Super Bowl Interest Into Yogurt Sales

Super Bowl Berth Marks First for Company -- and Yogurt, Too

By Published on .

The people who make Dannon yogurt hope the Super Bowl will convince consumers that the popular dairy treat is just as good a snack as Doritos or Emerald Nuts.

Dannon Co. of White Plains, N.Y., has purchased time to air a 30-second commercial in the third quarter of next year's Super Bowl telecast on NBC, as part of a broader effort to get people to eat more yogurt, said Michael Neuwirth, senior director-public relations for the company, part of Groupe Danone in Paris.

In doing so, Dannon takes the Super Bowl ad stage for the first time in its history. It also says its spot will be the first Super Bowl commercial to hawk yogurt.

"In the United States, yogurt is still an emerging opportunity, in that today, the average American eats about 12 pounds of yogurt per person per year, whereas in Canada, it's double that ," Mr. Neuwirth said. "In France, it's fives times that ." Dannon's sales in 2010 accounted for slightly more than $1 billion, according to an August estimate from Dairy Foods magazine.

NBC, which ad buyers suggest has only a handful of Super Bowl ad berths left, will broadcast Super Bowl XLVI from Indianapolis on Feb. 5. The network has been seeking up to $3.5 million for ad packages including Super Bowl commercial inventory, according to media-buying executives. Dannon completed its purchase of its Super Bowl ad time from NBC in late June, Mr. Neuwirth said.

Dannon may be a new Super Bowl sponsor but it appears to be hitching its ad wagon to a tried-and-true marketing effort related to the game. For years, food makers seeking to drive more consumption of their wares have tried to make a big splash in the Super Bowl. In 2008, Kraft Foods revived efforts to sell Planters nuts during the gridiron classic, while Diamond Foods has periodically used the Super Bowl to sell its Emerald Nuts and Pop-Secret popcorn (in 2010, the company placed both products into a single 30-second spot set in an aquatic theme park). And PepsiCo's Doritos has run a popular effort in the last several years that allows an average person create an ad.

Dannon, not surprisingly, believes yogurt consumption is "underdeveloped" in the United States. "The average American eats yogurt a couple of times a month," Mr. Neuwirth said. "We think it could be every day or a couple of times a day." Many cultures include yogurt in two or three meals a day or as a frequent snack, he said.

While so-called Greek yogurt has become popular recently, with such brands as Chobani and Fage taking some share of the spotlight, Dannon could move its advertising efforts in any number of product directions, Mr. Neuwirth said, including an ad that features a collection of the company's yogurt products. Dannon makes products including Activia, Dannon Fruit on the Bottom, Danimals and Oikos, its Greek yogurt brand. Mr. Neuwirth noted that Greek yogurt is perhaps the yogurt industry's fastest-growing category, but not Dannon's biggest driver of revenue.

WPP's Young & Rubicam is Dannon's agency of record but the agency that willl create the ads has not been determined. Havas SA's MPG negotiated the media purchase, said Mr. Neuwirth.

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