Feature article from The New York Times website, posted 6/14/12:
Anything-but-Ordinary Mom Pitches for Chobani Yogurt
By STUART ELLIOTT
TOO bad for Greece, and perhaps the euro, that the Greek economy is in no way helped by the surging popularity of Greek yogurt among American shoppers. In another sign of that interest, Chobani, the market leader in Greek yogurt in this country, is stepping up efforts to sell its new children’s product.
Chobani Champions is a Greek yogurt marketed for children. TV commercials feature the former American Olympian Jennie Finch.
The product, called Chobani Champions, was already being advertised in magazines and on Web sites read by parents. Commercials are being added to the mix this month, featuring the first celebrity endorser for any kind of Chobani: Jennie Finch, a pitcher for the United States Olympic softball teams that won the gold medal in 2004 and the silver in 2008.
Ms. Finch appears in the commercial with one of her two sons, Ace, who is 6. (The other, Diesel, turns 1 Tuesday.) The signing of Ms. Finch is no coincidence: Chobani is an official sponsor of the 2012 United States Olympic team.
...The Chobani strategy is encapsulated in the “Win the day” theme, said Doron Stern, vice president for marketing at Agro Farma in New Berlin, NY, in that “it talks to the insight that moms, and to some degree dads, struggle with choices for products for their children.”
Parents want products that are healthy, to make them happy, and tasty, for “happy kids,” he added. “We can offer both.”
Ms. Finch’s role in the commercial echoes the casting of the commercials for Chobani, Mr. Stern said, which feature “real people” like a student from Cortland, NY, and an office worker from Richmond, VA.
The Chobani Champions commercial begins with a couple of lighthearted nods to the athletic prowess of Ms. Finch, who calls herself, tongue in cheek, “a typical mom.” In one scene, she stops at a booth at an amusement park and knocks over enough bottles to win Ace a giant stuffed bear. Then, at his baseball game, she casually catches and tosses a ball without paying much attention.
“And just like any typical mom, I’m thrilled when my champion loves to eat something nutritious like Chobani Champions yogurt,” Ms. Finch says.
The spot ends with Ms. Finch proudly placing Ace’s (tiny) trophy on a mantel in a living room, in between her Olympic medals.
“So even though I’m an Olympian,” she says, “around here I’m just another mom trying to help her champion win the day.”
The humorous tack is important, said Jay Benjamin, chief creative officer at Leo Burnett New York, because “while these products are healthy products, they should still be able to have fun.”
Without that, he added, they risk being perceived as too serious or self-important, in the vein of an oft-quoted New Yorker cartoon from 1928 in which a daughter tells her mother at the dinner table, “I say it’s spinach, and I say the hell with it.”
“We loved the idea” of basing the commercial on the premise that Ms. Finch “may be an Olympic medalist,” Mr. Benjamin said, “but like every mom she’s facing the same challenge: feeding her kids.”
As for plans with Ms. Finch after the 2012 Summer Olympics, “I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of her,” he said, because she is “a great ambassador for the brand.”