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Chobani to debut at Super Bowl in major ad push

Chobani Greek Yogurt is seen at the Chobani

Chobani Greek Yogurt is seen at the Chobani plant in South Edmeston, N.Y. Chobani is a market leader, but says only about a third of Americans are familiar with its brand. (Jan. 13, 2012) Credit: AP

Chobani says it will air its first Super Bowl ad this February, a move intended to make the New York-based Greek yogurt company more of a household name.

The debut on advertising's biggest stage comes as Greek yogurt continues to surge in popularity. Known for its thick texture and tart taste, Greek yogurt now accounts for more than a third of the U.S. yogurt market, up from just 1 percent in 2007, according to a report by Bernstein Research. And the figure is expected to top more than 50 percent in coming years.

Chobani is the market leader, but it says only about a third of Americans are familiar with its brand.

To boost awareness, the company hired Peter McGuiness as its first chief marketing officer four months ago.

McGuiness declined to provide details on the Super Bowl spot, but he said it would be more than 30 seconds long and will mark the start of a more aggressive marketing strategy.

According to Kantar Media, a 30-second ad in the Super Bowl cost $3.5 million last year.

The timing of the push isn't coincidental.

The new year is seen as a time when people are looking to improve their diets, and part of the success of Greek yogurt in recent years has been its nutritional attributes, such as its higher protein content. This week Chobani is also rolling out a line of 100-calorie cups, marking a late entry into a critical segment of the yogurt market.

"This is a consumer we've been missing for the last six years," chief executive Hamdi Ulukaya conceded during an interview at the company's Manhattan offices. Chobani is based in New Berlin, upstate.

The rollout comes as Chobani faces growing competition from major players, particularly in the key lower-calorie segment that targets dieters.

Dannon, for instance, now offers a Greek version of its popular Light & Fit yogurt that's just 80 calories. And General Mills introduced 100-calorie versions of its Yoplait Greek last summer.

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