Global Media Relations for Danone
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Holmes Report

Global Media Relations for Danone

To distinguish Danone products worldwide among consumers and the scientific community, Ogilvy created and executed Danone’s first-ever global media strategic plan.

Paul Holmes

To distinguish Danone products worldwide among consumers and the scientific community was an international challenge that crossed cultures and continents.  Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide created and executed Danone’s first-ever global media strategic plan that was an outstanding success, not only because we generated outstanding international media results, but also because it provided scientific credibility for Danone’s probiotics research to further distinguish its products from the competition.
In May, 2000, Danone Vitapole engaged Ogilvy PR Worldwide to conduct a global media relations campaign in support of their first USA Symposium, “Functional Dairy Products,” at the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM). The annual Symposia provide scientific credibility for their probiotic research that differentiates Danone (in the USA, The Dannon Company) branded yogurt and fermented food products from its competition.
Danone Vitapole is the proprietary research center for Danone Groupe’s dairy products available worldwide.  The Center is a respected institution among the European scientific community and medical trade journalists.  In order to expand the Center’s visibility worldwide and to align the probiotic research directly with the branded products, the fourth scientific Symposium was held in New York City.
Ogilvy PR partnered with Danone Vitapole to secure NYAM and American Health Foundation (AHF) as recognized contributors to the scientific effort.  We also created a global media strategic plan to be executed locally in France, Spain, Germany, Portugal, Argentina, the United States and the United Kingdom.  
PR Program Objectives
  • Establish Danone as the global leader in fermented probiotic products
  • Generate global awareness of Symposium conclusions to support active health platform
  • Leverage proprietary research to distinguish Danone with consumers through news media
Ogilvy PR conducted extensive competitive research and analysis domestically and internationally to demonstrate the need to communicate Danone’s commitment to research in order to differentiate their branded yogurt and fermented products to consumers.
The functional food category includes both traditional food companies as well as the pharmaceutical industry.  Scientific research is helping to drive credibility and sales for existing and new products coming to market.  It has always been Danone’s philosophy to keep the proprietary research only within the scientific community.  Ogilvy PR research proved that they could no longer afford to remain silent about Danone Vitapole and that the Center was their best kept secret in their pursuit to establish Danone as the global leader in probiotic products.   
  • Leverage Danone Vitapole research to impact brand business
  • Partner with strategic third parties to expand scientific network and to gain access and credibility

International Press Conference -- Ogilvy PR selected and message trained world-renowned probiotic experts from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), The Academy of Finland, Rutgers University and Dairy and Food Culture Technologies to speak at the NYAM press conference.
Twentyone health and medical reporters attended from around the world, including The New York Times,, Vogue, SELF, Bon Appetit, Nutraceuticals World,  ScienCentral, and press reporters from Germany, Portugal, France and Spain.
Broadcast Footage from the Symposium -- Ogilvy PR produced a comprehensive, branded USA b-roll package that was distributed via satellite to news stations across the country.  The b-roll package included sound bites from prestigious priobiotic researchers and a Danone marketing director.  Footage also included Symposium presentation highlights, Dannon yogurt products featuring the Live and Active Culture seal, mother with child purchasing Dannon yogurt products at the supermarket, and families enjoying Dannon products.
Symposium Web site -- Ogilvy PR launched the first official Symposium Web site for one month for worldwide media and Danone representatives.  The password protected Web site included daily newsfeeds, Symposium photos, press materials, daily agendas, speaker bios and abstracts, and active links to the Danone, NYAM, and AHF Web sites.
Press Kit -- Ogilvy PR created the press kit material template for distribution to the respective countries for translation.  The lead press release was translated from English into French, German and Portugese and distributed to more than 750 reporters worldwide.

This Symposium was the first time Danone leveraged a global public relations campaign to leverage its investment within the scientific community as a communications vehicle promoting the health benefits of Danone products.  Ogilvy PR worked closely with Danone brand teams and scientists in France to create messages that maintained the scientific integrity of the research as it applied to the branded products.  We succeeded in not compromising either party’s interests based on the client feedback.
While Ogilvy PR created the strategic plan and provided media counsel for each European local market, we had to work with competitive agencies in each country that were in place prior to this effort.  We succeeded in building a network of collaboration in the best interests of Danone.
The global media relations activities generated more than 4.3 million audience impressions including 3.1 million USA branded media impressions, one million international placements, attendance of 21 reporters at press conference and secured more than 1,000 visitors to the Symposium Web site.
Media highlights are as follows:

  • B-roll footage ran in 17 stations in 15 target markets yielding more than 1.9 million U.S. media impressions.
  • Domestic print placements appeared in SELF magazine, Tufts Nutrition & Health Letter, Today’s Dietitian, Health magazine and The Cheese Reporter.
  • International placement highlights are:  Spain:  El Pais, El Medico, Levante, Gaceta De Los Negocios, ABC, Las Provincias, TVE, Canal 9, Agencia Efe, Europe Press; France: Le Quotidien du Medicin,; Germany: Die Welt; Portugal: Diario De No.
The Danone Groupe views this communications effort as an important success in utilizing proprietary research to distinguish Danone products worldwide among consumers and the scientific community and to establish itself as a global leader in fermented probiotic products.
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