Despite advertisements that would have you believe it's a food eaten only by dieting women in yoga pants, the yogurt market is fiercely competitive. Case in point: Dannon and Chobani are currently entangled in a legal battle over the latter company's recent ad campaign.
The commercials for Greek yogurt maker Chobani's recently launched "Simply 100" line featured a woman tossing aside a cup of Dannon Light & Fit, as a narrator warned that it contained the artificial sweetener sucralose, proclaiming, "That stuff has chlorine added to it!" (Chobani's Simply 100 contains only natural sweeteners.) Needless to say, this form of yogurt-slinging didn't sit too well with Dannon, which promptly sent Chobani a cease-and-desist letter. Chobani fired back with a lawsuit of its own, looking to the court to confirm that its ads were not in fact "false or misleading."
According to a rep for Dannon, this morning a court ruled in their favor — meaning Chobani's ads have been yanked, at least for now:
We are pleased with the court’s decision granting a preliminary injunction to stop this misleading advertising which is causing fear about safe ingredients, and we look forward to full and final resolution of this matter. Dannon considers this first step a victory for consumers who love Light & Fit.
Contrary to what Chobani has said, its Simply 100 ad campaign is not about providing consumers with choice. We have always used only safe ingredients to make a wide variety of yogurts that are enjoyed every day by millions of people.
Since 1942, we have worked hard to build a trustworthy Dannon brand based on quality products. We take all attacks on the reputation of our Light & Fit products as well as our brand seriously, and will work to ensure our competitors are truthful and not misleading in their advertising.
While it is true that sucralose/Splenda is processed with chlorine, more than 110 safety studies have been conducted on the sweetener in the name of pronouncing it safe for human consumption. But considering how up-in-arms people get about so-called yoga mat chemicals in their Subway sandwiches, it's no surprise that Chobani would decide to use a little chemical fear-mongering in an attempt to disparage the competition.
Today Chobani issued a press release of its own which reads in part, "Chobani will respect the Court's preliminary decision as it continues its campaign to provide consumers with more information about natural ingredients versus artificial ingredients. As part of the ruling, the Judge said Chobani is free to continue to spread its message about the value of selecting natural ingredients." To see that in action, one need only look as far as the Greek yogurt maker's Twitter account:
Matters of health and safety aside, Chobani's simply capitalizing on what other manufacturers have already realized: People want their food to be more "natural" (even if that term is completely meaningless), as evidenced by the scores of companies from General Mills to Papa John's that are ousting artificial ingredients.