Case Study: The Dannon Company
Teresa P. Cambare
Southern New Hampshire University
OL-690 X3474 Responsible Corp Leadership
Term [pic] 13TW3
Case Study: The Dannon Company
The Dannon Company is a subsidiary of Danone whose heritage dates back to 1919 and founded by Isaac Carasso in Spain. When Carasso immigrated into the United States in 1942, he established Dannon Milk Products, Inc. in New York, changing Danone into “Dannon” to make the name sound more American. Like most startup companies, Dannon faced challenges as a company until several decades after, in 1988, when Dannon capitalized on the advantages of having an FDA approval that they had one of their first most successful product launches. Since then, Dannon have developed many novel yogurt products. In 1994, it conducted a strategic operational reorientation and started focusing more on the health benefits of its products. Like its parent company, Dannon thrives in the yogurt industry distributing various forms of yogurt products around the world, ranging from its Staples or Fruit Blends, to Light and Fit (a low calorie yogurt), Kids, and its most recent and most successful launch, Activia (a probiotic cultured yogurt). In spite of the worldwide popularity of yogurt products, Dannon discovered that it is not a core part of the American diet compared to their European counterpart, as demonstrated by the 2007 yogurt consumption statistics. With Dannon’s recent goal to grow the yogurt category and its relevance to the American market, its executives saw this opportunity as a high-potential growth. Thus, by the end of 2009 being at the strategic crossroads to become the U.S. market’s leading distributor of yogurt in the domestic sector, Dannon’ senior director of public relations, Michael Neuwirth, wondered if the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) might have a role in this venture. To study the perspectives of the company’s stakeholders regarding the idea, he posed several questions which consisted of: 1. Should we communicate Dannon’s CSR activities?
2. What would be the best means to do so?
3. Should it be a corporate-level or brand-level campaign? 4. What would Danone think about this decision?
5. What would be the implications on Dannon’s current CSR initiatives? 6. What, if anything, would it require in terms of additional CSR programs? (Marquis et al., 2011, p.2). Six of Dannon key leaders whom Neuwirth consulted with were (1) Alessandro Arosio, Senior Director of Marketing, (2) Jon Pollock, Brand Manager, (3) Marc Jove, Senior Vice President of Marketing, (4) Claudia Sargent, Director of Media, (5) Tony Cicio, Vice President of Human Resources, and (6) Gayle Binney, Manager of Corporate Responsibility and The Dannon Institute. Each of them shared valuable views of the possible risks and benefits of using CSR as a tool in repositioning the company in the American market. The Debate: To Communicate or Not to Communicate Dannon’s CSR
Dannon pride itself not just for its CSR activities, but especially for maintaining a “humble” corporate profile by keeping its CSR efforts “internal”. According to Tony Cicio, this is the key in maintaining its authenticity, demonstrating that it is done for the right reasons. In this regard, Dannon’s stakeholders have enumerated several risks and benefits if they were to tie-in marketing efforts with its CSR activities. These benefits include: a) Communicating Dannon’s CSR programs will demonstrate consistency in its marketing message and increase consumer confidence. - Alessandro Arosio, Senior Marketing Director. (Marquis et al., 2011, p.9). b) Communicating its nutrition-based CSR efforts can bolster the Dannon brand as the nutrition expert, thus aligning its business with its social mission. - Jon Pollock, Brand Manager. (Marquis et al., 2011, p.10). c) Still focused on its nutritional benefits, communicating Dannon’s CSR can...
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