NFL Yogurt Partner Dannon Explains Why It’s Skipping the Super Bowl

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Dannon Oikos Cam Newton commercial

Dannon has dumped John Stamos like a starting quarterback suddenly past his prime and has pressed a real starting quarterback—the Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton—into the starring role in its campaign for a new variety, Oikos Triple Zero. Yet despite being the official yogurt provider of the NFL, Dannon plans to sit out advertising in the 2015 Super Bowl after it ran ads during the last two Big Games that featured Stamos, the former star of Full House.

For the yogurt market leader, its bigger goal is to leverage its new official partnership during Super Bowl playoff games, using the involvement of one of the NFL’s most intriguing players to get men to begin paying more attention to yogurt, where women still far outnumber male customers despite yogurt companies’ recent major push behind the protein content of the stuff.

In the new ad campaign launching on January 12, Dannon has tasked Newton with encouraging viewers to look beyond traditional staples for protein. Oikos Triple Zero packs in 15 grams of protein along with zero added sugar, zero artificial sweeteners and zero fat.[more]

brandchannel talked with Michael Neuwirth, senior director of public relations for White Plains, NY-based Dannon, about the brand’s new product and new approach.

bc: What’s the thinking behind the launch of Oikos Triple Zero and how you’re marketing it?

Michael Neuwirth: It’s a big launch for us mostly because of the expansion of our approach. It’s our first time activating our new NFL partnership, which is big. And ingrained in that is our interest in expanding the consumer base. For yogurt traditionally, it’s a predominantly female shopper and consumer. This product and marketing will not singularly appeal to men, but to both.

bc: Of course appealing to men to eat yogurt isn’t a brand new idea. A startup brand called Powerful Yogurt, which just today expanded its product line with a new drinkable form, began this sort of pitch a couple of years ago based on high protein. And in some of your own earlier ads for Oikos Greek-style yogurt, you have directly appealed to men, right?

Neuwirth: Yes, about two years ago we did some advertising in a male-specific approach, and the creative was about replacement of traditional protein sources with Oikos. For example, we ran a print ad with a hamburger bun and a cup of Oikos in the middle.

We learned that the positioning resonated well but it may not have been the most efficient of approaches. It was a clear and simple takeaway. And we saw that the protein snack opportunity could be devleoped. That’s a big part of our approach with Triple Zero.

In the protein-snack environment, Americans are looking for and finding protein in snacks, but they also are finding added levels of sugar, inherent fat, and without the benefits of added calcium and vitamin D and, in the case of Oikos Triple Zero, added fiber. So we explored that and learned from that and devleoped a product accordingly that has very broad appeal in terms of its nutritional appeal and in its affiliation with the NFL.

Dannon Oikos Cam Newton commercial

bc: And yet are you not concerned that the name might evoke a low calorie or diet product—”zero” bringing to mind a lack of calories, or fat, or other typical properties of a female-oriented diet product—and turn off or (at least not attract) men?

Neuwirth: Well, the name evokes a benefit, and it is a bit provocative—no added sugar, no fat, no artificial sweeteners—and those are key interest areas for all shoppers. We’re trying to bridge the gap to men but not at the expense of women’s interest. And women are still bringing most of the food choices into the home.

bc: I suppose appealing to men is where having the NFL logo on the package comes in handy, right?

Neuwirth: Yes. There’s huge recognition and appeal in that. We’re also happy to have Cam Newton specifically representing us. It was great that he had a great second half in the game on Saturday. We’ll see what happens in the [next playoff game for the Panthers] in Seattle. That would be a welcome win as well for our brand.

bc: Yet with all of these additional tie-ins to the NFL and a main spokesman who is a pro-football star, you still decided to opt out of the Super Bowl this year?

Neuwirth: It was largely a decision to make the most of the marketing resources we have during the launch of Oikos Triple Zero, which is now. The Super Bowl has a huge audience—but with a huge price tag. We looked at the most efficient way to build awareness and interest in the product across a longer period of time. And while we’re big fans of big events and have had two terrific experiences being Super Bowl advertisers, 2015 just didn’t make the most sense for us.

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