In 2001, Dannon attempted the seemingly impossible: turn yogurt into a “man food.” Speaking to The New York Times about its new ad campaign clearly aimed at a male demographic, then-marketing president Eric Leventhal said, “Yogurt is not just a woman thing.”
And so its new manly commercials showed gritty construction workers….doing a choreographed dance while stirring their yogurt in time? Real tough stuff.
But numbers-wise, Leventhal was right. At that time, women made up 61 percent of Dannon’s customer base — a majority, yes, but that nevertheless meant men comprised a healthy 39 percent. The perception of yogurt as something women eat probably has a lot to do a) with its role as a common home remedy for yeast infections and b) how most yogurt commercials depict women’s lives (and digestive systems) being radically improved with little more than a spoonful of the soured dairy product:
This wonderfully gendered description of Greek yogurt in a June 2005 Esquire piece aptly demonstrates a marketing-bred discomfort men seemed to have with openly eating it. That fruit-on-the-bottom stuff with the lickable foil tops is sissy stuff. Plain, thick Greek yogurt passes the man test, however:
“Greek yogurt is food, not a substitute for food. It makes you realize that yogurt ought to be considered a sort of essential, elemental offering, a daily delicacy, rather than a soupy, unsatisfying, parsed-out staple for obnoxious skinny people.”