Greek Yogurt: Athenos 'Yiayia' Spot Beats Competitors

by , Mar 31, 2011, 2:20 PM
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Greek yogurt is one of the hottest food categories going, with sales up 160% over last year, per Nielsen. This accounts for the barrage of television ads currently airing  

But which spots are scoring with consumers?

Kraft Athenos's new "Yiayia" campaign may have offended some Greek organizations, but its Greek yogurt spot is beating the competition in effectiveness, according to an analysis of recently launched TV commercials within the category conducted by Ace Metrix for Marketing Daily.

The Ace Score measures TV commercials' creative effectiveness based on persuasion and "watchability" measures. The persuasion measure reflects the interaction of six elements: desire, relevance, likeability, attention, information and change. Watchability measures engagement with the ad.

Featuring a Greek grandmother ("yiayia," in Greek) who is joltingly frank in conveying her disapproval of almost everything except Athenos Greek Yogurt (and the brand's hummus), the Athenos campaign has drawn media attention because of its somewhat risqué humorous creative, particularly coming from the country's largest food maker. (The most controversial spot, in which Yiayia tells a young woman that she dresses "like a prostitute," is for Athenos hummus.)

But the campaign is not just grabbing headlines. At least in the Greek yogurt category, it's grabbing the brand's core target audience of young women, as well as outperforming recently introduced spots from competitors on an overall basis.

The "Yiayia on Relationships" Greek yogurt spot, which has the old woman telling a young couple that they are "going to hell" for living together, recently pulled an overall Ace score of 528. (The average Ace TV spot score for dairy products as a whole is 519.)

The spot with the next-highest Ace, 485, was Chobani Greek Yogurt's "Cho Bike," featuring real brand fan Steven Wright riding his bike 80 miles to visit Chobani's factory. Another spot from the "Real Chobani Love Stories" campaign, "Cho Theft" -- showing fan Stephanie Lane interrogating co-workers and hiding her yogurt after someone at work steals her Chobani -- had an Ace of 484.

Dannon Greek Yogurt's "Heaven on Earth" spot -- which focuses on the product's taste ("introducing the most delicious yogurt imaginable") pulled a 479 Ace. Fage's "Total Plain Extraordinary" ("plain will never be the same") -- which takes an artistic approach (striking, eclectic visuals and verse copy, with the product shown only in an end shot) -- scored the lowest, at 426.

Among the five spots, "Yiayia" scored highest both with women 21 to 35 and women 36 to 49. Chobani's spots scored next-highest with these groups. However, among women 50 and older, "Yiayia" scored substantially below the Dannon spot, and also below the "Cho Bike" spot.

"Athenos's sarcastic humor approach did very well among younger females, and even males, but that approach may not play as well with older demographics," notes Ace Metrix VP, sales and marketing Jack McKee. "Dannon's straightforward 'delicious taste' approach, in particular, and Chobani's 'real love stories' from fans, seem to be resonating more with women 50 and over."

Although yogurt category marketing is generally targeted primarily to women, some of the spots, including "Yiayia on Relationships" and particularly "Cho Bike," are clearly inclusive of or focused on men. Ironically, however, "Cho Bike," while scoring 540 among women, tanked with men (430). "A 110-point difference is huge" and rather surprising, notes McKee.

Fage-Total-Plain-Extraordinary

Fage's "Plain Will Never Be the Same," on the other hand, seemed to confuse women and men alike. Comments from viewers recorded by Ace Metrix repeatedly employed the words "confusing" and "strange," as well as "artistic." Furthermore, they expressed confusion not only about the brand name (many were unfamiliar with it), but whether the product being advertised is yogurt -- never mind Greek yogurt (although it should be noted that the spot has been viewed on YouTube 585,000 times in four weeks).

"With TV, even cable, creative needs to appeal to a broad demographic," observes McKee.

Ace's data shows that the "desire" element -- a spot's effectiveness at inspiring viewers to want to go out and buy the product -- is particularly key in driving Ace scores for yogurt in general. Fage's low desire scores are one reason it performed poorly, for example.

Higher desire scores for regular/non-Greek yogurt commercials versus Greek yogurt spots is, at least at present, a major reason that the former as a whole perform better than the latter as a whole.

The five Greek spots' average Ace was 480, 53 points lower than the 533 average score for five recently launched regular yogurt spots. Among the regular yogurt spots, Yoplait Smoothie Drink Mix's "Delicious Real Fruit Rich Creamy Yogurt" scored highest, at 601.

Among the newer Greek spots analyzed, the Athenos "Yiayia on Relationships" commercial was the only one to exceed the 480 average for all Greek spots, and to approach the 533 average for all regular yogurt spots. The commercial scored above Greek spots' norm on both desire and likeability.

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