22 Oct The Millennial Series Pt. 3: Chobani
To continue our series on brands that have found success through being authentic we will take a look at greek yogurt company Chobani. While Patagonia is finding success as an environmental champion, Chobani’s authenticity is rooted in human rights.
Chobani (Don’t Forget Your Roots)
Good brands often have good stories behind them, Chobani is no exception to this. What makes Chobani unique is that its brand unabashedly embodies its story; the story of its founder, Hamdi Ulukaya. There’s a lot that went into making the company such a successful enterprise, we aren’t going to dive into all of that here. Instead I want to focus on how Ulukaya has found success while not forgetting where he came from.
“…through hard work and keen business sense Ulukaya was able to build his enterprise.”
Ulukaya never intended to live in America or become a billionaire in the yogurt making business. In fact his family in Turkey raised sheep and made cheese; something he did not wish to carry on. As detailed in the Fast Co. article linked above, Ulukaya through a turn of events was somewhat forced into relocation. After being taken in by police for his activist behavior in college, he felt it was safer to leave the country. Once here, through hard work and keen business sense Ulukaya was able to build his enterprise.
This could be the end of another immigrant success story in America, but it’s not; it’s the next piece that makes Chobani a brand worth cheering for. Somewhat of a refugee himself, Ulukaya has not forgot how difficult it can be to find your way in a new country. Through hiring practices and advocacy, he is helping to make it easier.
Many of the workers in his two factories are refugees. About 30% of the workforce in the plants is foreign; with translators on the premise it has not been without additional costs. Hiring refugees has also not been without controversy; Breitbart has run multiple articles attacking the owner and brand for this practice.
Ulukaya isn’t backing down, calling on other companies and world organizations to help support refugees. He has created the organization TENT, which seeks to improve the lives of those that have been forcibly relocated. Ulukaya also launched the organization HUG to help young Turkish entrepreneurs find their way.
“It’s inspiring to see such a successful person stand by his ideals and not forget where he came from…”
In February of this year Chobani had a “Giving Tree” based interactive marketing campaign in Grand Central Station. The digital display paid homage to the famous book by Shel Silverstein and allowed people to “plant a seed”. The campaign at surface level was a buildup to their yogurt giveaway this March. However, as we’ve found with Chobani, there was good will at the core of this display. Each seed planted led to a case of yogurt being donated to the No Kid Hungry charity.
It’s inspiring to see such a successful person stand by his ideals and not forget where he came from; this helps to make Chobani a brand worth cheering for.