Chobani was compelled to stop false advertising against its rivals after Judge David Hurd with the U.S. District Court of Northern New York issued the order.
Chobani, the upstate New York based company quickly became powerful competition to rivals General Mills and Yoplait when it began producing Greek yogurt in 2005. From a niche product, Greek yogurt became quite the sensation on the market. The latest spat between Chobani and its competitors began when Chobani designed a campaign seemingly aimed at bashing its competitors’ products.
Aired on TV, found in print and online, the ads targeted General Mills’ Yoplait Greek 100 and Dannon’s Light&Fit Greek yogurt. According to the ads, the products contained ingredients which allegedly rendered them unsafe for consumers. The ingredients that the Chobani ads made reference to would be used for cleaning pools (chlorine) and killing bugs (potassium sorbate).
Both General Mills and Dannon filed separate lawsuits against the Chobani ads which, in the companies’ views were misleading. Judge David Hurd couldn’t have agreed more. As such, Chobani was compelled to stop false advertising against its rivals.
The Chobani ads targeting General Mills’ products showed a woman throwing away an entire container of Yoplait Greek 100. The woman’s decision would have been prompted by an announcement that the product contained potassium sorbate. The association between the use of potassium sorbate and bug killing was clear.
Dannon also complained that the Chobani ads pushed consumers into believing that Light&Fit Greek yogurt contains chlorine in the same way that substances used to disinfect pools do. To end this spat, Judge David Hurd noted that none of the substances referenced in the Chobani ads are harmful for human consumption.
According to the Judge’s ruling, potassium sorbate may be used to kill bugs, but in a different chemical formulation. As such, the Chobani ads were improperly targeting a rival’s products. As per the ruling, potassium sorbate used in foods:
“created a nature identical chemical, meaning it is chemically equivalent to the molecule as it is found in nature, is safe for human consumption, and, when ingested, breaks down in the body into water and carbon dioxide”.
As for Dannon using chlorine in the Light&Fit Greek yogurt, the ruling similarly stated that chlorine is naturally found in sucralose. That is the ingredient used for Dannon’s product. Following the judge’s ruling, both General Mills and Dannon declared that they are happy with the results.
Chobani’s press release stated that the company is disappointed. Nonetheless, a continuing criticism and conversation regarding the company’s rivals’ products is necessary for consumers to remain informed.
Photo Credits: Flickr