French Say Oui' to Danone's Advertising Campaign

The yogurt war between Strauss and Tnuva generated a flourish of marketing creativity that is resounding beyond Israel's shores.

Danone France recently decided to adopt the new packaging design and advertising line used by Danone Israel. Smiling consumers in black-and-white share the yogurt cups - and the Danone commercials - with colorful fruits and the slogan, "Everything begins from the inside."

The cups, designed by Philippe Boulakia's Neo Group, and the advertising campaign, produced by Shalmor Avnon Amichay Y & R, helped Danone create a more refreshing and friendly image and increase sales after losing some of its market share to Tnuva's Yoplait. The advertising and marketing efforts also helped increase total market sales of yogurt with fruit.

Strauss understood that in order to respond to the hedonistic image created by Tnuva for Yoplait, Danone's image had to be spruced up. Danone was already perceived as healthy, but rather plain. Now this strategy will be applied in France, where a battle is also being waged between Danone and Yoplait.

Yoplait advertising in Israel, produced by McCann Erickson, is also attracting international attention. World Yoplait president Lucien Fa once said that people in other countries use products developed in Israel, so when the company was preparing to introduce yogurt with fruit and 1.5-2 percent butter fat to France, executives decided to use the "red" strategy developed here.

The war over the yogurt market in Israel was over prominence in store refrigerators. Yoplait colored the shelves in loud red. Danone, which first responded with blue cups, decided after a few months to fill the shelves with "quiet" colorfulness.

Sigal Shilony, marketing vice president for Strauss Dairies, said research conducted by the company before the new brand image was launched found that consumers perceive Yoplait as an enjoyable brand with a group experience, and that its strength comes from its boisterousness. Danone, on the other hand, is a brand whose consumption experience is personal and intimate, and its strength comes from this quietude.

The challenge for Strauss, Shilony said, was to ensure that consumers would continue to relate to Danone as a healthy product, while at the same time reinforcing their emotional connection to it.

Shilony said the new brand image was created using this concept. "When you feel good, the world looks better," she said.

Although Shilony did not say so outright, it is evident from her tone that she is pleased with the fact that Danone sales grew following the campaign and that Danone France has decided to adopt the concept in whose development she participated.

Gideon Amichay of the Shalmor Avnon Amichay Y & R advertising firm is also happy. "It is a big achievement for Israel that Danone France is adopting things that are done here," said Amichay, noting that Danone is a client of the Y & R advertising group all over the world.

The Israeli concept has also been examined by Y & R and Danone in countries other than France, and may be adopted by them, as well. Most advertising groups with offices in different countries use one another's ideas and even whole campaigns, at no extra charge.

The Israeli yogurt cups were altered slightly for the French market, and the French campaign's message focuses on the product itself - that, for example, it contains a lot of fruit but very little sugar. Now the smiling faces photographed by Shalmor Avnon Amichay in South Africa for the Israeli campaign will be smiling from the shelves of supermarkets in France.