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Yoghurt wars: General Mills, Dannon and Chobani stuck in legal battle

Being competitive doesn’t hurt. Or does it? Well yogurt brand Chobani is about to find out.

Chobani, which prides itself on having natural ingredients, has pissed off its competitors Dannon and General Mills after launching rather snide ads about their Greek yogurt ranges.

Its sunny new ad campaign for Chobani Simply 100 Greek Yogurt, early this month claims that Dannon Light and Fit uses artificial sweetener sucralose.

“Sucralose, why? That stuff has chlorine added to it,” claims the spot, before showing the Danone container being tossed in the trash.

Meanwhile taking a jab at General Mills’ Yoplait Greek 100 product, the Chobani add says: “Potassium sorbate, really? That stuff is used to kill bugs.”

Not taking this lying down, General Mills has launched a civil action lawsuit against Chobani for false advertising. General Mills also claims that the Chobani adds will “irreparably harm General Mills and the goodwill it has developed over several years” with millions of dollars to “build and protect the Yoplait Greek 100 brand and the Yoplait line of yogurts.”

General Mills launched its Yoplait Greek 100 brand in 2012. Since that time, General Mills has invested substantially in the product’s marketing and advertising, including nationwide television and print campaigns, as well as marketing through digital channels.

The lawsuit states that General Mills has spent in excess of US$900 million in the marketing and advertising of Yoplait products, in the last five years alone.

While one would expect Dannon to take steps similar to General Mills, in a surprising turn of events, Chobani has beaten Dannon to the punch and instead filed a lawsuit against the company.

According to a statement from Chobani, the move came following statements made by Dannon in response to Chobani’s latest campaign to discontinue the ads. Chobani is now seeking a declaration from the Court that its ad for Simply 100 Greek Yogurt products is not false, misleading, disparaging or deceptive.

Chobani also claims that it launched the the Simply 100 campaign on 6 January 2016 to help consumers make informed decisions about their food choices.

“Consumers have the right to know what’s in their cup. This campaign is fundamentally about choice—the choice between natural ingredients versus artificial ingredients,” said Peter McGuinness, chief marketing and brand officer, Chobani.

“We’re empowering consumers with facts and information to help them make more informed decisions when they’re buying food for themselves and their family. We know people are concerned about artificial sweeteners in their food, and this campaign is about giving them truthful and accurate information.”

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