Fresh from its takeover as the top US yogurt brand and from the earned-media boost of having its CEO featured on 60 Minutes on Sunday, Chobani is kicking off a new ad campaign that emphasizes people over product—or people and product, as chief marketing officer Peter McGuinness points out.
— Chobani (@Chobani) April 10, 2017
“Believe in Food” — the brand’s new tagline — is launching with an employee-centric TV spot that follows two product-centric ads earlier this year, and turns a fruit medley into a fruit melody.
— Chobani (@Chobani) April 10, 2017
The new TV commercial, “Chobani Fruit Symphony,” features a half-dozen real Chobani employees alongside musicians and vocalists singing What the World Needs Now Is Love. It was directed by Academy Award-winning French filmmaker and screenwriter Michel Gondry, who has another new campaign running in the U.S. currently with FedEx.
For Chobani, the indie filmmaker re-teamed with music composer Jon Brion, who also worked on Gondry’s hit film Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. “Fruit Symphony” features musicians playing Brion’s original arrangement of Burt Bacharach’s classic What The World Needs Now on instruments made out of real fruit, while the We Are LA Choir and six diverse Chobani employees sing along.
In addition to a feel-good vibe that is reminiscent of Coca-Cola’s iconic I’d Like To Teach the World To Sing commercial from a generation ago, the Chobani commercial features inventive instruments such as banana pianos and coconut drums along with conventional musical output and contact mics to produce a truly unique sound.
“Chobani has always been a different kind of company, putting people first—from our employees to our communities to our farmers and fans,” stated Peter McGuinness, Chobani’s chief marketing and brand officer. “We believe that when a company stands for something even bigger than its products, it has the ability to bring people together and be a positive force for good.”
Despite the fact that 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft introduced Sunday’s segment on Chobani Founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya by saying, “Of all the success stories [of American immigrants] none seems more relevant to the current debate than the tale of Hamdi Ulukaya.” Even so, Chobani executives say “Fruit Symphony” is not an oblique statement on diversity or immigration matters.
What the ad clearly is—a celebration not only of what Chobani has accomplished in beating Yoplait as the No. 1 U.S. yogurt brand but also in its approach to harnessing the diversity, as well as the enthusiasm, of its employees.
Chobani has been growing its market share with its Flips line, which allows consumers to add provided “mix-ins” to a yogurt base, and a new line of drinkable yogurts that’s attempting to energize a category that long has existed, but never has quite taken off, in the U.S.
For more insights, we spoke with McGuinness about the new campaign, the brand’s impressive growth and the bigger strategy.
bc: Peter, let’s start with the creative concept—why a symphony played with fruit?
Peter McGuinness (right): It’s real fruit, like the fruit in our yogurt—not fake fruit. The actual fruit acts as an amplifier to the music; the musical current and notes go through the fruit. There’s no tomfoolery there. The bananas are a nice touch.
There’s nothing artificial if you’re looking at the fruit or the employees, like our products—and unlike some of our competitors’ products.
bc: Is this a pivot in your messaging from product to people—or is it both, in balance?
McGuinness: I wouldn’t characterize it as a pivot or drifting away from our products. And it’s not a new idea. We’ve always thought food can bring everyone together and we’ve always believed in the power of food and always believed food can be an agent for change for good. We mean the people who make the food and supply the ingredients, and the communities around our factories.
And also, food is the basis of life. So we’ve always believed in providing better food for more people and making good food that’s delicious, natural, nutritional and affordable to everyone, and that food is a right not a privilege. So that’s always been a big part of our ethos.
bc: Why this campaign—and why now?
McGuinness: It’s been a huge part of our events, our PR narrative, our culture. We haven’t done a lot of specific ads on it. We’ve done it on social and on our website. And this is one of three TV spots running. You’re fair to say we haven’t specifically captured this message in a specific TV ad but it’s pervasive in the company. But there’s been no lightning rod moment. We just thought it was time, given the momentum for our business and the brand and the amount of innovation we had in the pipeline. It was a good time to get that out in this medium.
bc: What’s your strategy for growth?
McGuinness: In 2016 we had our most successful year. We’re very, very proud of that and we’re off to a great start in ’17 and we’ll continue to grow by doing what we’ve always done: make quality, good food; make it available to everyone everywhere; and invest back in our business and brand. We’ve invested capital for capacity for more Flips and drinks. We’ve invested more in people. We’ll continue to invest in marketing because yogurt is underpenetrated in the U.S. and we have low household penetration, and we lag Europe and Canada in consumption for no reason except that the category is relatively young in the U.S.
We think the yogurt category will double in the U.S., at $8 billion now, and will be a $15-$16 billion market in next three to five years. Most of yogurt is still consumed before noon and that’s diminishing with drinks and Flips and other innovations from us which are being consumed in the afternoon.
Look at Chobani. We’re nine years young. Our core product has been around nine years and is still growing in double digits, which is really great news, because you want your core product to be very healthy, and your new innovation can be incremental from that. You can’t innovate out of a core decline. Flips sales are up 50 percent in last two years and up 50 percent year to date in ’17, and that’s incremental additional growth for us.
Flips also is a snack and it has Greek yogurt in it but also crunchy goodies on the side, nuts and seeds and all sorts of wonderful inclusions that make it a wonderful afternoon snack. That’s incremental to the category; 50 percent of those purchases are incremental. Consumers are buying additional yogurt, or they weren’t in the category at all and they came in through Flips. Either way is beautiful, great for the category and great for consumption. It’s a boon for Chobani but a huge win for the category.
bc: Yogurt drinks have been around for a while now. How can Chobani energize the category?
McGuinness: Drinks are just 4 percent of the yogurt market. When we started, Greek-style was just 1 percent, and we came in and disrupted it, and now it’s 54 percent of the yogurt market. So we’re going to do what we did to Greek. Drinks have been around, but mostly by small players. Some of the drinks have been chalky, pasty and not so good. There’s not been a good brand with national distribution to grow that segment, that category, and that’s what we’re going to do.
There’s no good reason why drinks shouldn’t be a big, vibrant market in the U.S. It’s about the strength of the brand and the quality of the product. Ours is incredibly smooth, incredibly nutritional, and the flavors are amazing.
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