Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Ridiculously Tasty Greek Yogurt's Smart Ads

Interesting piece about FAGE's (my fave!) new advertising efforts in the New York Times! The brand, which I'd previously seen referred to as the "Aston Martin of yogurts" in a past USA Today, is now placing itself alongside other known luxuries, such as Tourneau watches.
Not only is this great exposure for a healthy and tasty product that I've been raving about for nearly a decade, but this is also a great demonstration of the popularity Greek products can obtain when marketed well to a broader public.

Bravo FAGE!

The New York Times ~ August 1, 2007
Advertising: Campaign for a Yogurt Enlists Stylish Partners

The images are eye-catching, luscious and tactile: on the left-hand page of the magazine is an advertisement for a Tourneau watch, its elaborate silver face shown up-close and in striking detail.

On the mirror page, a bed of white yogurt reflects the grooves and indentations of the timepiece, as if the magazine had been slammed shut with the yogurt and the watch facing each other. At the bottom of the page is an image of an overturned spoon, filled with creamy yogurt, hanging above a container of Fage Total. “Ridiculously Thick Yogurt,” is the tagline.

Readers of magazines like New York, Los Angeles Confidential, and Ocean Drive (of Miami) may have paused at the images and perhaps wondered how the symbiotic campaigns for such disparate products came together. In another spread, an Honora pearl necklace and diamond earrings have left their spiral impression in the Fage yogurt.

As it turns out, the unorthodox Fage (pronounced “fah-yeh”) campaign was dreamed up by Ogilvy New York, part of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, a subsidiary of WPP. Ogilvy New York conceived of not only the imagery but also the deal-making with both Honora and Tourneau, which are not Ogilvy clients. The agency approached both brands directly and worked with their in-house marketing departments on media placement and concept development, said Mark Tillinghast, group account director at Ogilvy.

“It was actually very easy,” Arturo Gigante, the senior art director on the campaign, said of persuading the brands to join the campaign. “They immediately recognized that it was a simple and fun way to incorporate their brands with Fage and appeal to a similar viewership, where one wasn’t competing with the other.”

Ralph Orssini, the president of Honora, acknowledged some initial concern about dunking his fine jewelry in yogurt for an ad. “At first I had to really be explained what the concept was,” he said, adding that he soon realized that the creative campaign could speak to a younger generation.

He also said that he saw similarities between the products: Honora pearls have the highest nacre content of pearls on the market, Mr. Orssini said, “so in essence, we sell ridiculously thick cultured pearls, and they sell ridiculously thick cultured yogurt.”

For Tourneau, the pairing seemed to underscore the sybaritic image that the brand tries to project, plus the physical qualities of the product. “In terms of luxury, the shape of the watch in the yogurt lends itself perfectly in ways a handbag or pair of shoes wouldn’t,” said Andrew Block, Tourneau’s executive vice president. “It’s all about making you stop to think,” he said, because “nobody has seen anything like this before.”

Besides the print campaign — which began last month and will run through the end of the year — Ogilvy is also handing out samples of Fage Total this summer on the Hamptons Luxury Liner bus and two Hamptons Citarella stores, in conjunction with Hamptons Magazine, which also features the ads.

Ogilvy is also hoping to sign up more partners for similar treatment with Fage, but it isn’t ready to announce any specific deals.

Antonios Maridakis, the executive vice president of Fage USA, said that the dissonance of the images is what makes them so striking to readers. “They may go back and take a minute to put two and two together, and that is what makes it more impactful and memorable,” he said.
Traditionally, yogurt marketing depicts the product as healthy, creamy and fruity, and usually features a fit young woman indulging in a spoonful or an energetic child grabbing a cup on the go. Luxury goods are conspicuously absent.

“Tourneau and Honora are known for making premium, beautiful products, and we thought that combination would show people we see ourselves up there — upscale and high end,” Mr. Maridakis said.

Since bringing its products to market in America in 2000, Fage, based in Greece, has cultivated a devoted following in urban markets, where Total yogurt is sold in high-end grocery stores like Whole Foods, Wild Oats and Trader Joe’s.

While most yogurt sells for about 89 cents a cup, Fage Total is sold for as much as $2 more. But that seems to only add to its allure.

We saw it take off tremendously,” said Tim Sperry, a retail consultant for natural and organic food manufacturers and a former buyer for Whole Foods. He added that in terms of sales, Fage was one of the top 10 yogurts at the supermarket and remains a dominant player within the specialty foods channel. “They really paved the way for European-style yogurts to break out of the traditional yogurt category,” Mr. Sperry said.

While major players like Dannon and Yoplait dominate the $3 billion yogurt industry, according to Nielsen Strategic Planner, denser, creamier Greek, French and other European-style yogurts are growing in popularity, according to Chris Crocker, a spokesman for the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade. And over the last year, yogurts with a “natural” claim on the package label grew more than 10 percent, selling more than $266 million, according to Nielsen.

Fage manufactures its yogurt in Greece, importing it daily into the United States, but it plans to open a manufacturing plant in New York in 2008 because of growing consumer demand here, Mr. Maridakis said. While most yogurts use only one liter of milk, Fage Total yogurt uses about three liters, and employs a patented straining process to give it a dense, creamy texture, he said.

Perhaps that is why the Ogilvy creative team chose to use the yogurt to produce the campaign’s images, rather than rendering them on a computer. “We knew we would get better realism and texture from pressing the jewelry into the actual product,” said Mr. Gigante of Ogilvy, adding, “but the Tourneau watch was not returned, let me tell you that much.”

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