NAD Finds General Mills Can Support Certain Yoplait ‘Greek’ Yogurt Taste-Test Claims, but Recommends Advertiser Modify or Discontinue Certain Comparative Claims Against Chobani

New York, NY – June 4, 2014 – The National Advertising Division has determined that General Mills, Inc., can support certain claims made for its Yoplait “Greek” yogurt in online advertising and social media, but recommended the advertiser discontinue or modify certain claims. The claims at issue were challenged by Chobani, Inc.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
Claims at issue in NAD’s review included:

  •  “The Greek Yogurt Taste-Off is on: Yoplait Greek Is Significantly Preferred over Chobani.”
  •  “Tastes Better Than the Leading Chobani.”
  •  “People agree Yoplait Greek Blueberry tastes better than Chobani Blueberry with fruit on the bottom.”*
    •  *Based on a nationwide, double-blinded taste test of Yoplait Greek Blueberry yogurt and Chobani Blueberry Fruit on the Bottom Yogurt.
  •  “It’s so much better than Chobani.”
  •  “NEARLY 2 OUT OF 3 PEOPLE AGREE – YOPLAIT GREEK BLUEBERRY TASTES BETTER THAN THE LEADING CHOBANI. TRY IT FOR YOURSELF!”
  •  “In a national taste test, nearly 2 out of 3 Americans agree that Yoplait Greek tastes better than Chobani.”
  •  “My #TasteOff is done, @YoplaitGreek has won.”

 

NAD also considered whether the advertising at issue implied that Yoplait Greek Yogurt tastes better than Chobani Greek Yogurt and whether consumers who tasted a variety of Yoplait Greek yogurt and Chobani yogurt and shared their preference for Yoplait Greek yogurt on Yoplait’s website and on social media were essentially confirming the results of the advertiser’s blueberry taste test results for other yogurt flavors.

In this case, NAD reviewed both the reliability of a taste test comparing Yoplait Greek blueberry flavor to Chobani blueberry fruit on the bottom, as well as the advertising campaigns surrounding the taste test results.

NAD has reviewed the reliability of taste test results in a number of contexts. One important issue which frequently arises is whether advertising which makes a taste preference claim clearly identifies the products compared or whether the advertising implies a broader claim than is supported by taste test results – that the taste preference applies across a brand or line or products.

Here, the advertiser made taste preference claims supported by a taste test of one yogurt flavor in two different brands and encouraged consumers to share their taste preferences generally in social media. NAD considered whether General Mills’ taste preference claim for Yoplait Greek blueberry was supported, and if so whether, in the context in which it appeared (alongside user generated content in social media, including Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr), conveyed a broader taste preference message than was supported by the taste test results.

Following its review of the evidence in the record, NAD determined that General Mills taste test claims that, “people agree Yoplait Greek Blueberry tastes better than Chobani Blueberry fruit on the bottom” and “Nearly 2 out of 3 people agree – Yoplait Greek Blueberry tastes better than Chobani blueberry fruit on the bottom” were supported. In reviewing the television commercial conveying the taste test claim, NAD determined that the commercial clearly identified the object compared and was therefore substantiated by the taste test results.

NAD recommended, however, that in other advertising the advertiser discontinue or modify its claim comparing Yoplait Greek blueberry to “the leading Chobani” to expressly state the basis for comparison.

NAD recommended that in future advertising the advertiser more clearly separate its claims about Yoplait’s taste test results on Yoplait Greek blueberry and Chobani blueberry fruit on the bottom from the comments it has solicited on taste preferences.

Finally, NAD recommended that when the advertiser offers incentives for product reviews, it advise reviewers of their disclosure obligations, and – to the extent that General Mills is aware of a material connection – it discontinue re-posting reviews on social media or modify such re-postings to clearly and conspicuously disclose any material connection between the reviewer and General Mills.

General Mills, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “does not believe its comparison to the ‘leading Chobani’ was unclear in the overall context of its advertisements. Nor does it believe that the level of engagement it had with consumers who received a Taste Off kit constitutes the type of ‘material connection’ that would be unexpected to consumers, particularly in the context of its overall social media campaign. It nonetheless will take NAD’s recommendations into consideration in future advertising campaigns.”