NAD balls Dannon over healthy yogurt marketing

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nad Vitamin a Dannon

French dairy giant Danone’s US subsidiary, Dannon, has been told to alter advertising for a yogurt product by the voluntary advertising watchdog, the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus (NAD).

After receiving a complaint brought by its rival General Mills, NAD recommended Dannon alter claims being made for its product, Light & Fit 0% Plus Yogurt.

Danone senior director of public relations, Michael Neuwirth, said while Dannon disagreed with NAD’s findings, it was a supporter of the self regulatory process, and had withdrawn advertising for the product in 2008.

He said Dannon would take NAD’s recommendations into account in future advertising, but wondered why NAD was issuing its findings now when Dannon had pulled the advertising last year.

Non-fit claims

The claims at issue were:

· “50% More Fruit*” (with the asterisk referring to a disclaimer stating, “50% more fruit than regular Light & Fit Nonfat Yogurt”).

· Light & Fit 0% Plus contains 12% of the recommended daily value of protein and 10% of the recommended daily value of Vitamin A.

Of the first claim, NAD deemed that the disclaimer that appeared on the back of the product, “was inadequate to properly limit the claim “50% MORE FRUIT”.”

The second claim was problematic, NAD determined, because consumers had to consume two four-ounce pots, not one, to attain the stated levels of protein and vitamin A, as the advertising implied.

Upon coming to such conclusions, NAD recommends the advertiser either discontinue or modify the claim, in the second case by stating “2 servings of Light & Fit 0% Plus yogurt contain 12% of the recommended daily value of protein and 10% of the recommended daily value of Vitamin A.”

Yoplait no play

The NAD warning follows another one issued last year to General Mills for its functional yogurt product, Yoplait Yo-Plus, for making misleading claims.

In response to a challenge brought by Dannon, NAD ruled against General Mills, a finding it opposed. But, like Dannon, it said it“supports the self-regulatory process, and will take NAD's recommendations into account in future advertising.”

NAD took issue with a chart GM employed to compare the attributes of Yo-Plus with those of Activia, the US probiotic yogurt market leader.

The chart indicated both products were fortified with ‘probiotic culture’, but only Yo-Plus contained ‘prebiotic fiber’, ‘vitamin A’ and ‘vitamin D’.

NAD agreed with Dannon that the chart implied the probiotic content of the products was the same when it was not, as both the strains and the evidence used to back them was different.

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