How Chobani’s small kindness offers big PR dividends

When the yogurt company offered to pay for student lunches in a Rhode Island community, the move allowed the company to build on a brand identity of community service.

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Sometimes a philanthropic act can offer big PR wins.

Earlier in the month, The Providence Journal reported that Chobani (which calls itself “America’s number one Greek Yogurt”) donated $50,000 to public schools in Warwick, Rhode Island, to pay off children’s lunch bills.

In a grossly unpopular move, school administrators had announced that children who owed money for lunch would be served cold sandwiches instead of a hot lunch. The yogurt-maker then swooped in with a charitable donation (and the inspiring words), a move that ultimately helped cause the school to reverse course.

Chobani founder and CEO, Hamdi Ulukaya, said: “[We] are trying to bring attention to the national crisis of food insecurity among students.…access to naturally nutritious and delicious food should be a right, not a privilege for every child.”

As my co-workers and I discussed the news around the office, we were all (unsurprisingly) sad about the state of the Warwick lunch system, but it was Caster founder and president Kimberly Lancaster who said, “I need to switch from Fage to Chobani.”

This conversation provoked a thought: Was this act of charity really just Chobani’s most cunning PR move?

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