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New Media Marketing: The Dannon Co.

New Media Marketing: The Dannon Co.

To announce the rebranding of Dannon Greek yogurt as “Dannon Oikos,” the manufacturer tapped the virtual water cooler: the blogosphere.

• Dannon Oikos rebranding social media campaign used product sampling and word-of-mouth to create a buzz in the blogosphere.
• An innovative approach allowed Dannon to reach out to bloggers in person and through the web.
• Products have their own social media campaigns geared to relevant groups.

To announce the rebranding of Dannon Greek yogurt as “Dannon Oikos,” the manufacturer tapped the virtual water cooler: the blogosphere.

Before this rebrand, the Oikos trademark had only been used by Dannon’s sister company Stonyfield (parent Group Danone owns an 85% share), and Dannon wanted to get the word out that it would also be using the Oikos name.

Because the Dannon Oikos berry-flavored nonfat yogurt had won a national taste test, Dannon was confident in its product’s appeal, according to Michael Neuwirth, senior director of public relations for The Dannon Co. “And so sampling and the word-of-mouth from sampling via influential bloggers rose to the top as one of the ideas we were going to undertake to launch the rebrand,” he said.

In an increasingly digital world, it might seem strange, but one of the ways Dannon reached out to bloggers was by simply talking to them — in person.

In August, a team trained to speak about the product and the rebranding manned a booth at the 2011 BlogHer Conference, a conference for women bloggers in San Diego.

There, Dannon passed out free samples of Dannon Oikos, called attention to its new ad campaign with the actor John Stamos, and let attendees take their photos in front of a Greek background. The pictures could be emailed to friends or family or sent straight to attendees’ blogs, Neuwirth said.

“And that was a lot of fun. We had more than 300 of the attendees participate in the photo booth, which represents, I believe, about 10% of the total attendees,” he said, adding that Dannon gave away thousands of samples and received a lot of positive feedback on the product.

The conference resulted in several independent reviews of the product including a Huffington Post mention of the ad campaign, Neuwirth noted.

“So we really tried to create a symphony of noise in the blogosphere about the new product and use the ad as a preview for the rebranding, and we’ve been very pleased with the results.”

Aside from the conference, Dannon also approached individual bloggers to see if they’d be interested in receiving a coupon or free sample product to review. Dannon felt asking before sending coupons or product was crucial to receive thoughtful reviews.

“Because ours was a message of taste preference vs. the leading national brand, we thought [blog review] quality was paramount because we were very confident.

And, as national taste test results confirm, we had a winning product in the nonfat berry-flavored Dannon Oikos,” Neuwirth said.

Just how did Dannon identify which bloggers to reach out to? “Research, research, research,” Neuwirth told SN.

The company looked for food enthusiasts who enjoyed trying new products and for blogs with a good following and analytics numbers, he said.

In addition to individual bloggers, for the Dannon Oikos campaign the manufacturer also worked with the Clever Girls Collective, a network of bloggers interested in working with brands. The collective distributes information to bloggers interested in those categories.

As a result of the Clever Girls Collective Blog Tour, many of the independent bloggers’ reviews of Oikos rank highly in a Google blog search for the product.

Measuring success can be tricky for social media campaigns, and Dannon takes a holistic approach. In working with bloggers, “One way to assess is the subscription rate. So, how many of those opted in to sample the product, number one,” Neuwirth said. “And that would tell us: Are we making an offering that’s of interest?”

Dannon also looks at how often information about the product is passed along through social media, and looks at what reviewers are saying about the product.

“What are we learning from a feedback perspective in terms of what is liked and what’s an opportunity to improve on the products from a taste perspective.”

For its social media promotions, Dannon keeps its product target audience top of mind.

For instance, to illustrate Activia’s marketing message of both good flavor and health benefits, Dannon is giving away a coupon for a free Activia Greek or French Selects yogurt to Facebook users who “Like” the product page. Neuwirth said the campaign has been successful, and Dannon’s objective is to give out 1 million samples.

And, to create a dialogue with people who might not want to talk about stomach regularity, a Brazilian Activia campaign — “Rhythm in the Pot” — allowed Facebook users to “put their lives in the rhythm” by signing up to have musicians, standing in a pot of Activia, make up improvised, live songs based on their Facebook profile information through an app. One thousand videos were made and posted on Facebook users’ accounts, according to a video made by Wunderman Brazil, the PR agency behind the campaign.

Dannon’s social media campaigns have reached out to kids, too. With school back in full swing, Danimals, a yogurt line for kids, is running the promotion “Rally for Recess” where schools compete by entering product codes to win $20,000 for a playground makeover.