Danone North America Picks Wavemaker as Media Agency of Record

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Danone Credit: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

Danone picked WPP's Wavemaker as its media agency in North America as the yogurt maker aims to better reach consumers, especially younger ones buying plant-based and organic fare.

The selection comes in the wake of Danone's acquisition of WhiteWave Foods in a $10 billion deal in April 2017.

The assignment covers the Danone portfolio across the United States and Canada, including DanoneWave's dairy- and plant-based foods and beverages and Danone Waters of America, which markets the Evian brand.

Previously, Carat handled Danone's media business and Spark had WhiteWave's media account. The incumbents were among the three finalists, says Sergio Fuster, president of U.S. yogurt for DanoneWave.

The WhiteWave acquisition gave Danone a broader, more diversified portfolio of brands and a "much broader" set of targets, Fuster notes. Brands such as Horizon Organic and Silk tend to skew toward younger shoppers than some of Danone's existing Dannon yogurt lines.

Now, the combined entity DanoneWave hopes to extend its reach in non-traditional channels "with a renewed focus on digital," where it was already growing, Fuster says. Other plans include influencer marketing, precision marketing, and content generation.

Four of the biggest brands, Dannon, Silk, Horizon and International Delight, will get the lion's share of the undisclosed media investment, says Fuster.

DanoneWave, like other big food marketers, has been putting more attention on plant-based products as consumers seek alternatives to products made with cow's milk. Dannon remains the biggest yogurt company in the United States, with brands such as Activia, Danimals, Dannon and Oikos. But Chobani is the top-selling single brand in the U.S., ahead of Dannon, according to data from Euromonitor International.

Carat, which won the Danone business back in late 2013, is handling the account during the transition, Danone said. The Dentsu Aegis Network-owned agency didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

WPP works on creative for DanoneWave's yogurt business, while Fallon handles creative for the plant-based business as well as coffee creamers and beverages.

Wavemaker, which formed last year when GroupM merged MEC and Maxus, is starting to see some momentum in new business. In February, the agency notched its first U.S. win with software giant Adobe.

That recent-merger culture at Wavemaker appears to have struck a chord with Danone, the agency's U.S. CEO Amanda Richman says.

Both agency and client are "two companies coming together, looking to build deeper integration, looking to focus on growth and really unite their teams with a single-mindedness on how we solve for this new dynamic marketplace," Richman says.

She adds that Wavemaker will embed its employees in Danone offices. That isn't necessarily a new tactic, but she says they're trying to take it one step further with this new client.

"In this case, we're trying to advance that to accelerate the movement from audience understanding to activation — jump on the right marketplace opportunities and make sure the data is at the core of every step of the process," she says.

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