CASSIES Silver: Activia returns to feeling its best

The yogurt brand diagnoses digestive health as the key to reviving its sales.

SILVER: Off to a Good Start • BRONZE: Best Insight

Situation Analysis Activia, a yogurt containing a probiotic culture that alleviates digestive discomfort, topped the market. But in 2010 and 2011, Activia sales began to fall – primarily due to a price increase, lower ad spend and less effective messaging. But with new creative scheduled for early 2012, could the downhill trend be stopped?

Strategy & Insight The majority of Canadians admit to having digestive discomfort at least once a week, and most see this as normal and are not actively looking for solutions. But when questioned further, they admit these discomforts are bothersome and prevent them from feeling their best. This was the key – people had to recognize the problem.

Execution Advertising surrounding health-related claims is heavily regulated in Canada, especially on television. So Activia built its message around moments associated with digestive discomfort, such as fatty food, eating fast, stress and lack of exercise. TV and online video used a first-person storytelling approach. The actress enumerates what brought on her digestive discomfort (without using those words) and then takes control by exercising, eating better and enjoying Activia every day. Magazine executions included a full-page ad plus a three-page spread that wrapped a health section featuring the importance of digestive health. And both print and television featured Activia’s branding elements – such as the belly square, the Activia arrow and the green colour.

Results Sales turned around, with double-digit growth replacing double-digit decline. As a result, the campaign is considered an example of international best practice across 40 countries.

Cause & Effect Post-test Ipsos research showed above-normal results for persuasion, recall and messaging, and there was a definite link between the timing of the advertising and the sales response.


Client: Danone Canada
VP marketing: Pauline Varga
Marketing director: Ben Angeloni
Senior brand manager: Marie-Claude Trudeau
Brand manager: Alexandra Latendresse
Assistant brand manager: Flore Siboni
Agency: Saint-Jacques Vallée Y&R Brands
VP, COO: Marie-Andrée Bertrand
Group account director: Élyse Boulet
Account director: Hélène Mitchell
Strategic planner: Julie Bazinet
Account coordinator: Martine Rioux
CD: Daniel Poirier
Copywriters: Jennifer Goddard, Frédérick Wolfe
AD: Francis Lévesque