Chobani’s #NoBadStuff Campaign: False Advertising vs. Speaking the Truth

You may have heard about Chobani’s commercials that point out the evils of some of the ingredients in their leading competitors’ products—most notably, Dannon and Yoplait. Chobani labeled this campaign as #nobadstuff, claiming its Greek yogurt was the only one on the market not to contain preservatives. (The way Chobani did this, however, was to point out that some of the ingredients in its competitors’ brands were also ingredients in pesticides.) Yoplait sued Chobani for false advertising, and in turn, Chobani and Dannon also became entangled in a lawsuit.

Since then, the judge has ruled to pull Chobani’s ads on the charge that they were misleading. Chobani’s Chief Marketing and Brand Officer Peter McGuinness responded to the judge’s decision with this statement:

“This is not a marketing campaign, it’s a mindset campaign, and it outlines the difference between using only natural ingredients versus artificial ingredients…In the end, if we can give more people more information while helping other food companies make better food, everyone wins.”

This conversation got me thinking about what false advertising truly is and if there is ever a time to “trash talk” a competitor. Since we’re in the middle of a political campaign season, we’re seeing a lot of that going on. If you point out the issues with your opponent’s product (whether that be a food item or a person’s policies), when does it cross the line between insults and simply pointing out flaws in the competition? Arguably, it gives the audience a glimpse of less glossed over version of the product, but this version is just as biased as the first.

So, is there a line? What do you think?

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