Chobani’s New Fearmongering Ads Go After Dannon’s Artificial Sweeteners

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Yogurt wars.
Yogurt wars.Photo: Chobani

Chobani is the alpha-dog Greek yogurt on every dairy aisle these days (Whole Foods notwithstanding), and the company is bashing the competition (slash “empowering consumers with facts”) with a new series of scaremonger-y “Food Babe”–style ads that list other brands’ artificial ingredients that are definitely not in Chobani. Dannon and Yoplait, the two biggest threats, both get singled out in TV spots where a woman dismissively chucks aside their packs, unopened, for Chobani Simply 100, “the only nationally distributed brand of reduced calorie Greek yogurt that does not contain artificial sweeteners or artificial preservatives.”

Here she is registering her distaste for the sucralose in Dannon’s Light & Fit:

“That stuff has chlorine added to it,” the ad’s narrator says, clearly appalled. Sucralose, a.k.a. Splenda, has fallen out of disfavor in this all-natural era, but it’s still in tons of foods. The commercial attacking Yoplait, meanwhile, calls out its Greek 100 for using the (also common) preservative potassium sorbate. “Potassium sorbate — really?” it goes. “That stuff is used to kill bugs.”

Understandably, neither competitor appreciates these ads, and everybody’s legal teams are knuckling up for a fight. Dannon’s attorneys filed a cease-and-desist as soon as they caught wind of them. “The statements made by Chobani in their latest attempt to sell more yogurt are entirely misleading,” a rep tells the New York Times, “and we don’t think consumers appreciate that kind of approach.” The company’s complaint contends the ads are “false, misleading and deceptive, will deceive consumers, and have caused and will continue to cause immediate and irreparable injury to Dannon, as well as to consumers.”

Not to be outdone, Chobani has filed a counter complaint (which it touted this morning in a press release given the heroic title “Chobani Files Suit in Response to Dannon’s Attempts to Stop Chobani From Telling Consumers the Truth About Artificial Sweeteners”), arguing that there’s nothing untoward about the ads because, as a rep apparently put it to the New York Times, the info comes “directly from federal government websites,” so they’re “true and accurate.”

[NYT]