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Danone Takes Bold Step in Investing in Minority-Owned Publishers

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Danone spent more on digital media than on traditional media for the first time in 2022.
  • Acording to Statista, all Danone’s segments combined generated net sales of about 27.7 billion euros in 2022.

  • With a brand value of over 20.8 billion U.S. dollars, Nestlé was by far the most valuable food brand in the world in 2022.

Catherine Lautier, global head of media and integrated brand communication at Danone, spoke to The Drum about the challenges of investing on buying ads in diverse media and reaching new audiences. Lautier says that a “huge number” of consumers do not feel represented in media and advertising, and the industry is not yet realizing the untapped growth coming from better media representation.

The impact of brand safety protections

Brand safety protections that ensure ads only appear on “safe” parts of the internet have impacted minority media titles. Content that includes words such as “sex,” “shoot,” or “kill” can be avoided completely, and descriptors such as “transgender,” “bisexual,” “Asian,” “Muslim,” “interracial,” and even “Black” can also be blocked. In trying to avoid appearing next to hate speech, brands often block positive and inclusive content.

Danone takes responsibility for its investments

Danone has been attempting to make up for these shortcomings by taking more responsibility for its buys, using more sophisticated tools, and seeking verticals that have been historically absent from campaigns. In 2020, after auditing the multinational’s media spend plans, Lautier realized that only 0.1% of Danone’s annual budget went to minority-owned publishers, which was at odds with its wider DE&I goals.

Danone’s path to inclusive media

In conjunction with media agency Wavemaker, Danone instead saw 2% of its US spend go to Black-owned publishers. It was a tiny proportion of overall spend, yet it was net new investment in a new range of largely untapped inventory. The investment proportion then grew to 4% of media spend after early tests proved positive. Danone spent more on digital media than on traditional media for the first time in 2022.

The growth of the scheme

At least once a month, the Danone team invites a diverse media owner to present to them to explore new investment opportunities. According to Danone’s mixed modeling measurement, one diverse media title in particular has offered more return on investment than any other title. Lautier sees growth and expansion of the scheme, predicting that the 4% slice could grow if a coalition of like-minded advertisers.


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