Chobani perks up coffee creamer push with flavor creation contest

Best known for popularizing Greek yogurt, Chobani has spent the past two years expanding beyond the dairy snack and parlaying its brand strength to develop plant-based milks and coffee creamers.

The New York-based company introduced a line of coffee creamers in January 2020, starting with traditional flavors like vanilla and hazelnut and rolling out seasonal varieties throughout the year. Now, it’s looking to ramp up flavor innovation with a new creamer conceived and voted on by consumers. A new campaign, entitled “I Dream of Creamer,” kicks off today with fresh creative to promote the July creamer contest and will culminate in January 2022 when the selected flavor hits store shelves.

The campaign follows a smaller, more traditional advertising push last year that introduced consumers to Chobani’s product expansion. Dovetailing with last year’s effort, “I Dream of Creamer” espouses an approach that fosters fan participation throughout 2021 and looks to help Chobani better compete with big businesses in the space, said Eddie Revis, Chobani’s vice president of brand marketing, strategy and media.

“The creamer category is such a social category. People love to talk about their coffee rituals,” Revis said. “It takes one swipe through TikTok or one check on Twitter to see people celebrating how they make their coffee in the morning.”

This campaign was developed in-house and includes online video, retailer out-of-home (OOH), paid social, email, influencer partnerships and an Amazon box takeover.

‘Psychedelic escape into your favorite daydream’

Chobani first announced its foray into creamers at the end of 2019 after discovering the coffee addition forms as a natural byproduct during the yogurt-making process, according to Revis. The company sold the dairy byproduct to fellow food producers at first, but eventually decided to weave it into Chobani’s lineup that was also expanding to oat milk and other plant-based items. The undertaking put Chobani head-to-head with creamers from CPG giants like NestlĂ© and Danone, and the company is now working to carve out a bigger slice of the creamer category by aggressively marketing the line in its second year. The global coffee creamer market is forecast to expand $2.4 billion from 2020 to 2024, with a bulk of that growth stemming from North America, Technavio research predicts.

“I Dream of Creamer” launches with a new video clip designed for social media, weaving in colorful tie-dye backdrops and a 1970s-style typeface.

“It is a beautiful interpretation of the world of our coffee creamers, a psychedelic escape into your favorite daydream,” Revis said.

The video was designed to inspire people to imagine new flavors and submit their idea on a Chobani microsite. An internal panel at the company will narrow down submissions to three finalists, which fans can vote on in July. The winner of the chosen flavor will receive $75,000 and see their creation on shelves in early 2022, while the runner-up gets $15,000 and third place wins $10,000.

“The creamer category is such a social category. People love to talk about their coffee rituals. It takes one swipe through TikTok or one check on Twitter to see people celebrating how they make their coffee in the morning.”

Eddie Revis

Vice president of brand marketing, strategy and media, Chobani

Other campaign collateral encouraging fans to partake in the flavor contest include branded Amazon boxes, upon which Chobani can place its logo, visual assets and link to the microsite. Altered consumer behaviors over the past year drove Chobani’s decision to go the branded box route, according to Revis, who noted that the pandemic pushed Chobani away from deploying traditional OOH ads. However, his team wanted to bring a similar impact of experiential into people’s spaces.

“As a company and a brand, we started thinking about ‘how do we take OOH to the home?'” Revis said. “That led us to think about how we can meet consumers at their doorsteps in nonintrusive ways that still let them choose to jump into the promotion and participate.”

Longer-lasting impressions

The creamer contest follows several participatory activations over the past few months. Recently, Chobani hosted its first hashtag challenge on TikTok, celebrating Opposite Day (Jan. 25) and a limited-edition flavor of its Flip snack. The brand made its debut on the social video app in January with a call for intern applications, and hosted gamified Instagram Stories in the fall to match users to different yogurt flavors and let them “tap to solve” a puzzle that highlighted ingredients in Chobani’s lactose-free Complete line.

“I Dream of Creamer” arrives in the lead-up to Chobani’s first appearance in the Super Bowl, during which the brand will advertise its oat milk beverage on local CBS stations in 11 markets, including Philadelphia, Dallas, Minneapolis and Sacramento, California.

With its interactive activations online, the yogurt maker can deliver branded experiences that are likely to leave longer-lasting impressions than static posts or standalone video ads. Chobani’s flavor-matching wheel on Instagram Stories last fall was one of the most engaged pieces of content the brand has run, according to Revis.

“We see so much success when we invite the consumers, and we want to create a space to engage with them and participate,” Revis said.

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