Sunday, February 9, 2014

Chobani Yogurt Leverages Politics To Stretch Their Sponsorship Dollar

As the Winter Games in Sochi got underway this past weekend, one side story had little to do with the sporting events. As you've probably heard by now, it seems that a large shipment of yogurt from American brand and Olympic sponsor +Chobani was prevented from entering the host country due to a lack of paperwork ensuring the product met standards set by the Russian government. 

The protein-packed yogurt was to be distributed among United States athletes, as well as American journalists there to cover the events. As the matter was investigated further, political news outlet Politico reported the following: 

"The yogurt-related dispute is more than a one-off Olympic absurdity, too. The Russians have been blocking shipments of milk, cheese, yogurt and other products since 2010 for what U.S. officials say are bogus and unscientific reasons. U.S. dairy industry officials said they’re just glad their problems with Russia are finally getting some attention."

With Russia being one of the world's leading importers of dairy products, it seems quite unlikely that Chobani was unaware of the embargo the country has had on U.S. dairy for four years. So, why take a gamble at a pricey sponsorship, and bother to ship 5,000 containers of their product they can be sure will be intercepted before reaching their destination? Simple. For the marketing opportunity that money can't buy. 

It's one thing to get your product in the hands of athletes for some good placement, and run television and digital ads like every other Olympic sponsor. It's quite another to create a dynamic story around your product that news outlets pick up, politicians latch onto, and people discuss at length. A chance like this is not in front of most other sponsors. Chobani saw their unique opportunity, and seized it.   

So, way to earn that extra media attention +Chobani. Very smart. Let's just not start a war over it, okay?