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Danone ‘successfully hacked the Super Bowl’ with Oikos so it’s expanding the strategy to its other brands

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This story is part of Digiday’s annual coverage of the Super Bowl. More from the series →

For the last five years, Greek yogurt brand Oikos has advertised around the Super Bowl, as opposed to during it. This year, Danone is expanding its Oikos Big Game playbook to its other brands including Silk, known for plant-based products, and SToK cold brew. 

The food and beverage company has “successfully hacked the Super Bowl” using this strategy, which includes digital buys, in-store displays, sweepstakes and other tactics focused around the big game, said Linda Bethea, head of marketing for Danone North America. It’s a strategy that nearly doubled brand sales at one point, per the company. And this year, Danone is doubling its marketing spend to roll out its Super Bowl hacking strategy to its other brands.

“We intentionally decided to have a digital-first big game buy because we see that purchasing plant-based beverages and consuming content via streaming services is a lot more prevalent with younger generations — with millennials and Gen Z,” said Surbhi Martin, svp of plant-based beverages at Danone North America. (Martin declined to offer specific spend figures.)

This year, 30-second Super Bowl spots are going for $7 million. As opposed to shelling out spend for a one-time ad, Danone is redirecting those ad dollars to reach viewers on the second screen of social media and via streaming on CBS platforms including Paramount+, said Bethea. 

“Streaming is obviously a much less expensive buy,” she said, also declining to outline specific ad spend figures. “So we’re able to do more with the same amount of money. Because again, we can redirect some of those dollars into other channels and drive that full screen-to-shelf integration.”

From January through November of last year, Danone spent more than $22 million on media for Oikos, Silk and SToK. That figure is slightly down from the more than $28 million spent during the same time period in 2022, according to Vivvix, including paid social data from Pathmatics. In total, Danone spent nearly $29 million on media for the three brands in 2022.

Beyond the brand’s celebrity-packed streaming spots, Oikos will have a full social campaign that will live on paid media and Oikos’ brand handles. Danone will employ a similar strategy for Silk, complete with a full campaign across all media channels, including digital and social. Finally, the StoK coffee brand is a social-led brand, targeting a younger audience with a scrappy approach through social media, per Bethea. 

So-called hacking the big game isn’t a new marketing tactic. Brands have advertised in Super Bowl-adjacent places for a long time, with regional broadcast media buys or paid digital, as opposed to expensive 30-second broadcast spots.

“Many brands have bought ‘around’ big events like the Super Bowl before. Monday morning news shows, pre-game content, post-game, etc.,” Jennifer Kohl, chief media officer at VML agency, said in an email. “The average marketer doesn’t have $7 million for a 30-second unit. So yes, more brands will look for ways to ‘hack’ into Super Bowl content via social, search, streaming, highlights, etc.”

As cord cutters fuel the streaming surge and streaming platforms roll out ad-supported services, that playbook is becoming more important for Danone, the company execs said.

“The approach we take from a media standpoint is we purchase media in the big game streaming platforms versus the linear buy,” said Bethea. “All of [our campaigns] are through the streaming platform again, really trying to reach the younger consumer where they’re consuming the big game.”

Recently, Danone has been reinvesting in its brands via a new strategy called “Renew Danone.” Last year, that came with a year of reinvestment on the media side, which was increased by 20% last year, Danone’s global head of media and brand communications, Catherine Lautier, told Digiday. It’s unclear exactly what those spend figures look like or how much is dedicated to streaming ads. (Read the full interview with Lautier here.

Notably, this year’s Super Bowl broadcast is slated to air on CBS broadcast, stream live on Paramount+ and broadcast on Nickelodeon, marking the first time the Super Bowl has had an alternative telecast on another network, per the National Football League. Between the aforementioned changes, rise in streaming viewership and short-form video consumption on TikTok, the big game is a bit more fractured this year, creating more places for advertisers to appear on top of the event.

“I would say an agile approach is the most effective method we’ve seen over the past few years. The ability to take real world events everyone is talking about and quickly produce something that pushes the convo in your direction,” Sam Kendrick, senior director of social marketing at marketing agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky, said in an email, “– a la ‘dunk in the dark.’”

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