There’s an active culture of legal battles in the yogurt industry when it comes to advertising.
Chobani’s ad campaign for its “Simply 100” line of low calorie Greek yogurt sparked a swift response from its competitors after airing commercials last week mentioning Yoplait and Dannon by name. The TV spots aired on January 6th and featured a woman tossing aside low calorie Greek yogurt products from Dannon and Yoplait, opting for Chobani Simple 100 instead.
One of Chobani’s ads features the woman holding Dannon’s Greek yogurt as the narrator says “Sucrose? Why? That stuff has chlorine added to it!”
The other commercial aimed at Yoplait makes a similar claim; this time the narrator says that the potassium sorbate found in Yoplait’s product is “used to kill bugs.”
Following the launch, Dannon filed a cease and desist letter asking that “Chobani immediately discontinue the Simply 100 Campaign,” according to a Chobani press release.
Chobani countered with a lawsuit against Dannon to prove that the Simply 100 campaign is not false, misleading, disparaging or deceptive.
General Mills, the company that owns Yoplait, filed a lawsuit against Chobani on Sunday, claiming Chobani engaged in false advertising against the Yoplait 100 Greek product line.
“The advertisements communicate an unambiguously false message Yoplait Greek 100 contains a toxic pesticide ‘used to kill bugs’ and as a result, is not fit or safe to eat, and should be thrown away by consumers,” states a part of the lawsuit filed by General Mills.
Peter McGuinness, Chief Marketing and Brand Officer for Chobani, said he is not surprised, but “disappointed that Dannon and General Mills are focused on stopping people from having the facts about artificial sweeteners and artificial preservatives. This campaign is about giving people truthful and accurate information so they can make more informed decisions about the food they buy.”
However, this isn’t new territory for the Greek yogurt competitors. It turns out that in 2014 Yoplait released an ad campaign for a Greek yogurt line that called out Chobani by name in their taste test comparison.
This article was updated on Jan. 12, 2016 at 4:11 pm with a statement from Chobani.