Who would have thought X Super Bowls ago, or even V, that there could be as many commercials for yogurt during a game as for candy? That seems likely to happen on Feb. 2, when Fox broadcasts Super Bowl XLVIII: Two brands of Greek-style yogurt, Chobani and Dannon Oikos, have bought commercial time in the game, as have two candy brands, M&M’s and Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups. Of course, other snacks will be Super Bowl advertisers, like Doritos, as well as drinks like Coca-Cola, along with the SodaStream home soda maker. And Pepsi sponsors the halftime show.
“We want to deliver a message that we’ve been about from the beginning: Making Chobani mass; why not everywhere?” said Hamdi Ulukaya, founder and chief executive of Chobani, which is to formally announce its Super Bowl ad plans on Tuesday. “We’re saying that we need to make the food revolution happen, better food for everybody.”
“It’s a national conversation we want to start,” he added, and the Super Bowl “is America’s No. 1 event. It just felt right.”
A 60-second Chobani commercial — in the first Super Bowl appearance for the No. 1 brand of Greek yogurt — is scheduled for the third quarter. The spot, featuring a new theme, “How matters,” is the start of a multimedia campaign that includes ads in digital and social media, events and a public relations effort. The “How matters” campaign is to continue after the Super Bowl with elements like commercials during the Winter Olympics and the Academy Awards.
Dannon, a division of Danone, will run a 30-second spot for Dannon Oikos but has not identified the quarter in which it will appear. Dannon Oikos previously sponsored the Super Bowl in 2012, with a commercial featuring the actor John Stamos; it was the first yogurt ad to appear on what is the biggest day of the year for advertising as well as football.
“I love competition,” Mr. Ulukaya said. “I am excited to put this on a show everyone in America watches.” An estimated 108.4 million people saw the previous Super Bowl, on Feb. 3, 2013.
Mr. Ulukaya said he understood that an effective way to gain attention for a Super Bowl spot, even one promoting healthier eating, is to avoid being “overly serious.”
“What we’re saying is that good can also be fun,” he added.
To that end, the Chobani spot, created by Droga5 in New York, is following a decades-old ad strategy for Super Bowl Sunday: If you want viewers to pay attention — as well as like and share a clip on social media — bring in an anthropomorphic animal.
In the ad, a fierce brown bear ransacks a grocery as a proxy for human shoppers, acting out how “you can go to a supermarket and go through the aisles and you cannot find a decent something to eat,” Mr. Ulukaya said. (Two bears visiting a grocery were the stars of a Pepsi commercial during the 2004 Super Bowl.)
What Chobani believes it offers is summarized by an announcer’s declaration: “A cup of yogurt won’t change the world. But how we make it might.”
Mr. Ulukaya and Peter McGuinness, chief marketing and brand officer at Chobani, said the Super Bowl commercial was not meant to take consumers’ minds off a recent bumpy patch for the brand that came after a five-year stretch of rapid growth. The sour notes included complaints when Chobani reduced some package sizes, a decision by Whole Foods to stop selling Chobani as shelf space in dairy cases is reallocated and a voluntary recall by Chobani of what was described as a small quantity of products.
“It’s not a reaction to anything,” said Mr. McGuinness, who joined Chobani after serving as chief executive of two ad agencies, DDB Chicago and Gotham. “Hamdi and I decided to do the Super Bowl my second day on the job, back in July.”
Mr. McGuinness and Mr. Ulukaya have known each other since Gotham was the creative agency for Chobani, from 2010 to 2012. After that, Chobani worked with Leo Burnett New York and Boathouse before hiring Droga5 in September.
“It’s a fair point,” Mr. Ulukaya said, to bring up how frequently Chobani has changed agencies, along with ad themes; previous ones included “Nothing but good” and “Go real.” One reason for the turnover was that “it’s very difficult to find the right partner,” he said, and another was a desire to have “the right message and stay true to who we are.”
David Droga, creative chairman at Droga5, joked, “It’s all a dress rehearsal till you get what you want.” He continued: “On one level, it reassures me — they’ve seen what’s out there. It’s good to know what you do want and don’t want.”
The Chobani commercial is also the first Super Bowl spot for Droga5. “We’re respectful” of the challenge to make an outstanding Super Bowl ad, Mr. Droga said, “but not intimidated.”
“We’re going in with confidence,” he added, because “the ‘How matters’ platform is true to who Chobani are and is a powerful message delivered in an entertaining way.”(By , NYT - A version of this article appears in print on January 21, 2014, on page B2 of the New York edition with the headline: Yogurt Joins Super Bowl Snack Parade.)
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