By Rob Neill, msnbc.com
If turkey is the national dish on Thanksgiving, on Super Bowl Sunday it's pizza, wings, seven-layer dip and beer.
Now Dannon plans to bring yogurt to the party. The company will debut its first ever ad during the game Feb. 5 featuring its Oikos Greek yogurt brand.
The spot, featuring b-list actor John Stamos, comes at a time when popularity of Greek yogurt is soaring. Partially for that reason, the company felt comfortable spending “in the $3.5 million range” for the 30-second spot, said , Dannon spokesman Michael Neuwirth.
“It’s not to change snacking habits during the Super Bowl obviously,” he said. “But we’re in a category of food that continues to grow. It’s a long-term trend.”
And for exposure, “there’s no better way to do that than the Super Bowl.”
The spot, which will debut online in the days before the Super Bowl XLVI, features a woman enjoying Oikos at her breakfast table. The “alarmingly handsome” (Neuwirth’s words) Stamos enters the kitchen. She offers a bite to Stamos. Then he offers her a bite, but pulls it back at the last second to eat it himself. A few more teases later there is a battle between the two that … well, Neuwirth said, you’ll have to watch the ad.
It has no dialogue.
A woman eating yogurt? For breakfast? John Stamos? Isn’t Dannon concerned that’s a bit feminine for the big game?
“The yogurt-buying public is broader than you think,” Neuwirth said. “More than 80 percent of households have yogurt in the refrigerator at some point during the year.”
“The business environment is right for us. Especially with the sustained interest in Greek yogurt.”
Greek yogurt, which is thicker than ordinary yogurt, with more protein and less fat, now accounts for a quarter of U.S. yogurt sales, according to The Associated Press. Neuwirth said the appetite among male customers is increasing.
In any case the battle-of-the-sexes theme is a tried-and-true Super Bowl tradition, as much a part of the game as the pratfalls and talking animals that dominate ads during the big game.
“Anecdotally we’ve heard (the commercial) has a strong appeal to men, for in some cases the same attributes” as women, he said.
Each year, a few companies take the risky plunge and try advertising for the first time on the nation's biggest televised stage. With a reported cost that has risen this year to as much as $4 million for 30 seconds plus production costs, it’s a bet that does not always pan out (ask Pets.com).
“We started our company in 1942, Neuwirth said. "We’re not a technology company that (has) an untested model. We understand there is a higher expectation of quality and creativity. But this ad is very different from our everyday ads.”
Dannon, based in White Plains, N.Y., is a unit of France's Danone.