Athenos: Yiayia's Back ...This Time For Feta

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After producing significant sales lifts for Athenos hummus, curmudgeonly Greek grandma Yiayia is back to give her stamp of approval to Athenos feta cheese (while, of course, disapproving of everything else).

Last year, a Yiayia TV spot for Athenos hummus that aired in about 40% of the country between March and July drove double-digit sales gains, reports Athenos brand manager Anne Field. (That spot featured Yiayia telling a young hostess in a not-terribly-revealing dress, who was serving Athenos hummus to her guests, that she looked like a prostitute.)

For the two new spots for the feta products, the campaign is being taken national, Field says. 

In one of the new feta spots (which have 30- and 15-second versions), Yiayia takes a look at some young people gathered at a quiet pool party (and appropriately garbed in bathing suits) and pronounces that the scene looks like “pornography.” In the other ad, after observing a young woman video-chatting with her new husband, Yiayia concludes that the woman is “sick” because she’s “married a machine.” 

But Yiayia heartily approves of the protagonists eating Athenos feta on their salads during both spots’ scenarios, because (as a voiceover explains), it’s “made the Greek way, taking extra time and care for 'cremium' rich taste.” Voiceover tagline: “Athenos: Maybe the only thing approved by Yiayia.”

The feta spots will begin airing on TV beginning May 28, on programs including “Chelsea Lately,” “Conan,” “The Bachelorette” and “Apartment 23.” Meanwhile, they’ll become accessible online starting May 14, both through Athenos’s Facebook page and as pre-rolls and banner videos on sites including TMZ, E!, Us Weekly, MSN and Sheknows.com.

The feta phase of the campaign will also include an integration on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!.”

Social media efforts supporting the “Approved By Yiayia” campaign for Athenos’s feta and other products, from the brand’s agency-of-record Droga5, include an app that allows Facebook fans (currently numbering nearly 210,000) to plug in their own pet peeves to create and share personalized “rants” on those topics delivered from the mouth of Yiayia herself. Athenos also frequently posts and tweets blunt commentaries from the brand mascot (“Yiayia-isms”) on its Facebook and Twitter accounts, notes Field. 

Also, timed for Mother’s Day, Athenos is currently encouraging Facebook fans to email the brand a picture of their mothers or Yiayia, indicate what she approves or disapproves of, and get their friends to vote for their favorite submissions. The submitter who generates the most ‘likes’ will be featured as the brand’s Facebook cover photo on Mother’s Day and for a week. 

The “Yiayia” campaign has won a North American Effie Award (although the specific award levels will not be known until the awards are presented on May 23). 

In March this year, Kraft Foods discontinued the Athenos Greek Yogurt line, which also employed the “Yiayia” campaign. In March 2011, Ace Metrix reported that the Athenos Greek Yogurt spots were significantly outperforming the TV ads of other Greek yogurt brands, including Greek yogurt category leader Chobani, in terms of persuasiveness, “watchability” and other factors that go into consumer response as measured by Ace scores.  

According to a Kraft statement, although Athenos Greek Yogurt -- introduced late in 2010 -- had a loyal following, the company decided to refocus its efforts on innovating other new products for the Athenos brand.  BusinessInsider and other trade press have noted that Kraft’s decision seems sound -- given that Chobani, with its head-start in the Greek yogurt category, commands about 60% of that market in the U.S., and that its nearest competitor, Dannon’s Oikos brand, has only about a 17% share. 

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