Chobani and Michel Gondry make music with smoothie ingredients

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Leading Greek yogurt brand taps staff to play "What the world needs now" with produce in new ad from W+K.

Nearly six months after being named Chobani’s lead creative agency, Wieden+Kennedy has released its first brand work for the Greek yogurt company. The 30-second TV anthem was directed by Academy Award-winner Michel Gondry. It features six Chobani employees among a large ensemble cast, singing Hal David and Burt Bacharach’s 1965 hit "What the World Needs Now," accompanied by an orchestra made of fruit.

Yes, fruit.

"What you’re seeing in this spot is real fruit, like what’s found in our yogurt, and you’re seeing real people, so there’s nothing artificial in the spot, like there’s nothing artificial in terms of our ingredients," said Chobani CMO and Chief Brand Officer Peter McGuiness. "That’s the connective tissue."

The new spot is part of Chobani’s "Believe in Food" campaign platform, which has had a soft rollout this year. Product spots from W+K began debuting in February featuring the "Flip" yogurt and snack topping combo and the "Drink" yogurt smoothie. But "Fruit Symphony" is meant to begin the conversation about the new platform.

"’Believe in Food’ is a multidimensional thing," McGuiness said. "You can believe in the ingredients, how it’s sourced, how it’s made and manufactured, the nutritionals of it, the quality, and you can believe in the people behind the food, the factory workers and the plant workers that take great pride in making a beautiful cup of yogurt."

Indeed, Chobani has made sustainability and corporate citizenship a key part of the brand’s appeal. Milk is locally sourced from cows that haven’t been treated with growth hormone, and none of the ingredients are artificial or genetically modified. Founder Hamdi Ulukaya is a Turkish immigrant and outspoken supporter of refugees. The brand has weathered criticism for this stance and has been the target of anti-Muslim fake news.

But that progressive positioning has helped the brand climb to the No. 1 spot among Greek yogurt brands in the country. Chobani is also No. 2 among yogurt brands overall, behind only Danone’s Dannon, despite only selling the Greek variety. Last year, the brand overtook General Mills’ Yoplait, after posting its best year to date, according to McGuiness.

A year ago, Ulukaya also distributed 10 percent of company shares to employees, a worker-focused approach that carries through the latest work. The six employees in the spot—like R&D Specialist Vivek and Case Pack Operator Eh Say—share their thoughts about the brand and food, in short quotes that will appear online.

The anthem is an "ode to employees," McGuiness said. Chobani believes that "food can be a source for good in the world," he added. "That can be consuming it, that can be making it, that can be giving it away for those in need."

The spot will run on national cable networks as well as digital and paid social. Assets will appear at point-of-sale locations and at more than 50 community events near the companies two plants in upstate New York and Idaho. Chobani also has media partnerships with Time Inc. and Thrillist.