Chobani, General Mills fire off lawsuits
Chobani’s Simply 100 ad campaign sparks legal battle.
This week, Chobani filed legal action against Dannon, seeking a declaration from the court that the advertising for its Chobani Simply 100 Greek Yogurt products is not false, misleading, disparaging or deceptive and that claims its yogurt contains less sugar than regular yogurt are not false or misleading.
Chobani launched its Chobani Simply 100 Greek Yogurt campaign on Jan. 6, 2016, touting its new line of yogurts that feature no artificial sweeteners and preservatives while highlighting some of these ingredients are used in Dannon and Yoplait yogurt.
“Consumers have the right to know what’s in their cup,” says Peter McGuinness, chief marketing and brand officer for Chobani. “This campaign is fundamentally about choice—the choice between natural ingredients versus artificial ingredients. We’re empowering consumers with facts and information to help them make more informed decisions when they buy 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.”
After the launch of the campaign, counsel for Dannon sent a letter to Chobani and demanded it immediately discontinue it. In a statement, Dannon Spokesman Michael Neuwirth says, “We believe in truthful and honest marketing and advertising, and we are therefore very disappointed that the Chobani campaign misleads and deceives the public about the healthfulness and safety of our Light & Fit brand.”
In one ad, Chobani criticizes Dannon’s use of the artificial sweetener sucralose. However, Dannon contends sucralose is an FDA-approved ingredient that has been used safety for more than 15 years. “We intend to pursue all available avenues to address Chobani’s misleading and deceptive marketing,” Neuwirth says.
In a different campaign ad, Chobani goes after Yoplait, saying the yogurt contains potassium sorbate, and the ingredient is “used to kill bugs.”
General Mills responded with a lawsuit of its own, stating the Chobani ad claims its Yoplait yogurt is toxic and should be discarded as garbage. General Mills says in the lawsuit that it is not aware of any evidence potassium sorbate—an FDA generally recognized as safe ingredient—is effective against insects.
General Mills seeks damages and a preliminary and permanent injunction against Chobani to stop the Simply 100 ad campaign.