Icelandic Provisions’ first national ad campaign seeks to set skyr apart from its ‘cousin’ yogurt

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Icelandic Provisions’ first national ad campaign seeks to set skyr apart from its ‘cousin’ yogurt

Related tags Yogurt skyr

With the launch of a multi-media national advertising campaign today, Icelandic Provisions is ready to bring its traditional Nordic-style skyr out from the long shadow of its “cousin” yogurt, where the brand has steadily grown over the past four years, according to company CEO Mark Alexander.

“Yogurt is such a large category and consumer behavior that we think it has been smart to be a part of that. Skyr is something that can be used in a very similar way to how yogurt is used in the morning or as the base for a great bowl. And so that’s been a great short hand for us”​ as we have introduced the brand – and concept of skyr – to the US, Alexander explained.

But, he added, “we’re not a yogurt. Skyr is different from yogurt in very specific ways,”​ and now is the time to explain that to consumers and set Icelandic Provisions’ skyr apart from the competition in a very crowded category.

As such, Alexander said, the new campaign will focus on answering the basic questions of what is skyr – and how to pronounce it.

To communicate this, the campaign includes a series of video spots filmed in the Icelandic coastal village of Vik that feature two improv actors in traditional Icelandic sweaters who braved 20-degree weather and 50 mile-per-hour wind gusts to comically explain that skyr is “yogurt’s Icelandic cousin with less sugar and more protein.”

Close ups of the actors eating skyr also show that it is thicker than yogurt and appears to have a rich, velvety texture.

At the end of several spots, the actors encourage viewers to say “Hallo” to Icelandic Provisions’ skyr, which has more protein and – depending on the actor as they speak over each other – less sugar and more taste.

The joke does more than encourage a smile from viewers, it also speaks to the balance of function and flavor that many shoppers are looking from in products today, and their unwillingness to compromise on either.

“Our functional attributes are important and consumers are looking for lower sugar and higher protein, but there are an increasing number of products out there that are offering those particular functional attributes. So, it is important that we also communicate that we have an unbelievable taste and texture experience, as well,”​ Alexander explained.

The spots also emphasize the brand’s authenticity by not only explaining how the skyr is made from cultures that come from Iceland but also by choosing to shoot the video in Iceland with a native crew.

“We had a big crew over there working with a big group from Iceland. Our production company, the actors, the director – all those people were Icelanders. And that is important to us because that is where we originate. Our founding partner is the Icelandic dairy cooperative, and that is where we get our skyr cultures, and we wanted to authentically communicate how our brand emanates from the Icelandic food and lifestyle and country,”​ Alexander said.

‘Out-of-home experiences’

Beyond the video spots, the campaign also will include geo-targeted and digital content “coupled with quality, out-of-home experiences,”​ according to the company.

Starting in Washington, DC, the campaign will execute these through a series of “transit takeovers, including full bus wraps, bike share kiosks and digital transit shelters,”​ it adds.

Alexander explains that Icelandic Provisions opted to focus first on Washington, DC, because the transit system is highly used and the campaign is able to leverage it to place posters and ads near retail outlets where consumers can easily find their products after learning about them through the campaign.

New doors, new flavors

Moving forward, Alexander said, the campaign likely will spread to other communities as the brand also expands its distribution.

“We are continuing to build up our distribution in a couple of ways. First of all, store count. We still have many more stores that can carry our product that don’t right now. And then also by offering new flavors to market that will excite our consumers,”​ he said.

For example, he noted, Icelandic Provisions recently added a creamy line that uses whole milk skyr and offers “an amazing texture and eating experience.”​ It also will unveil at Natural Products Expo West four new flavors, including a cold brew coffee flavor that Alexander said took two years to develop in partnership with a small Icelandic, family-owned coffee roastery.

“We think it’s a really special and unique flavor and we have some other really neat flavors like lemon and pineapple and coconut,”​ Alexander added.

Overall, Alexander said, the one-two-punch of the advertising campaign and new flavors “is like another engine to strap on the company and take us to the next level of growth. And we are excited to get this thing done.”

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