I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Danone's Vegan Ice Cream

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In the wake of the nearly surreal Dairy Pride Act, wherein Big Dairy accuses the plant-based industry of coopting the words "milk", "yogurt", and "cheese" to essentially trick people into buying vegan products, a beacon of the cow dairy industry has become a firm believer in plant-based, especially vegan ice cream. Danone is going all out when it comes to its dairy-free lines, incuding So Delicious, best known for its vegan ice cream.

The French multinational company and largest yogurt producer in the world acquired WhiteWave foods last summer, thus acquiring plant-based brands like Silk, So Delicious, Vega, and Alpro.

“Our mission proper is to bring health through food to as many people as possible,” says Michael J. Neuwirth, Danone Senior Director of External Communication, who notes that, given the increased interest in plant-based products worldwide, offering these products in addition to its popular dairy yogurts was a “natural” next step in order to continue to fulfill that mission.

But health isn’t the only reason to choose plant-based dairy – and that’s what Danone’s new multimillion-dollar ad campaign for vegan ice cream, So Delicious Dairy-Free, is trying to show America.

The new campaign was developed with the Duncan Channon creative agency in order to court “a wider base of health-conscious customers who value both taste and wellness,” according to Andy Judd, VP of Marketing. It features 15-second videos showing the brand's vegan ice creams in extreme close up to better illustrate the enticingly creamy texture. The campaign’s tagline, “Nothing Compares,” is a firm departure from the usual marketing messages focusing entirely on the health benefits of plant-based foods.

plant-based ice cream

“Tasting So Delicious’ frozen desserts offered an ‘aha’ moment for our team," says Anne Elisco-Lemme, executive creative director of Duncan Channon. "The flavor and experience stands completely on its own."

“‘Nothing Compares’ is a bold declaration of confidence that decadence and wellness can absolutely go together," she continues. "There’s zero reason for these products to stand in the shadow of traditional dairy ice cream.”

FoodDive highlights this campaign as “a departure from the strategy taken by most dairy-alternative makers,” noting that it will “correct the perception that choosing dairy-free requires sacrificing pleasure.”

It’s a bold strategy, but it may work. After all, non-dairy milk sales are increasing exponentially in the U.S., with 9 percent growth in 2015, according to Mintel. Non-dairy ice cream sales grew 46 percent in the 52 weeks ending April 29, according to Nielsen data. And Danone is not the only predominantly dairy-based company jumping on the bandwagon: Ben & Jerry’s, Talenti, and Breyers have all recently launched vegan ice cream lines.

“It’s wonderful to see this significant advertising commitment for a plant-based ice cream brand,” says Michele Simon Executive Director of the Plant Based Foods Association. “More than anything, consumers need to be convinced that non-dairy ice cream can be just as indulgent and delicious (even more so) than dairy-based treats.”

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