UPDATE #2: Score one for Dannon in the yogurt wars. In a statement provided to Food Dive, Dannon said, "We are pleased with the court’s decision granting a preliminary injunction to stop this misleading advertising which is causing fear about safe ingredients, and we look forward to full and final resolution of this matter."
Mike Siemienas, brand media relations manager at General Mills, told Food Dive in an email: "We are pleased by today’s court ruling requiring Chobani to stop their false ad campaign attacking Yoplait Greek 100 yogurt. General Mills supports fair and vigorous competition between companies, but false advertising only misleads and harms consumers."
Chobani issued a news release citing, predictably, disappointment with the ruling, but that it would honor the decision. "In the end, if we can give more people more information while helping other food companies make better food, everyone wins," Peter McGuinness, chief marketing and brand officer at Chobani, said in a statement.
UPDATE: Chobani wants to keep the ads going and filed a federal lawsuit against Dannon in New York Monday.
Generall Mills is now suing Chobani, claiming the ads "convey that, because Yoplait Greek 100 is laced with a pesticide, it is so dangerous and unfit to eat that consumers should discard it as garbage."
- Chobani took aim at other Greek yogurt brands in a Simply 100 ad campaign that bashed other brands' use of artificial ingredients — an ad campaign that quickly ended up in the courts after its Jan. 6 launch.
- The day after the campaign debuted, Dannon sent a cease and desist letter to demand that Chobani discontinue the campaign.
- On Friday, Chobani sought out a court decision that would permit the campaign to continue, standing by the ads' claims as "true and accurate."
Dannon's lawyer Marcella Ballard said in a statement to Chobani's general counsel that the campaign's claims "are false, misleading and deceptive, will deceive consumers, and have caused and will continue to cause immediate and irreparable injury to Dannon, as well as to consumers."
In response, Chobani said that the information revealed by the campaign — that Dannon's Light & Fit Greek nonfat yogurt contains sucralose and that Yoplait Greek 100 contains potassium sorbate as a preservative — was pulled from websites run by the U.S. government.
Sucralose is an FDA-approved substance commonly used in sugar-free or low-sugar products and potassium sorbate is a common preservative. Use of these artificial ingredients is unappealing to health-conscious consumers who are looking to avoid these types of ingredients — a recurring industry trend.
Chobani banked on this sentiment with this bold ad campaign, which is meant to demonstrate the difference between Chobani Simply 100 and its competitors — that Chobani's product has a clean label with only natural ingredients. With the law coming into question now, though, it's unclear which yogurt arguments will stick and which products consumers will ultimately favor.