There’s no sense in playing coy: I friggin’ love Panera Bread! The brand, I mean—not just the bread. To me, there’s just something appealing about Panera as a restaurant; something I can’t quite put my finger on. Of course, now that they’ve launched a new campaign designed to explain exactly what makes them so damn appealing, maybe I won’t have to.
The brand responsible for making the Asiago Cheese Bagel a nutritional requirement for upscale fast-food enthusiasts just recently rolled out a fancy new ad campaign to show off their fancy new slogan, “Make Today Better.” And the slogan works beautifully.
Take a look at their newest video spot:
Pretty snazzy stuff, eh? Well, it ought to be—the new campaign is reportedly costing them $40 million. The ad (one of a few similarly-themed videos on their YouTube channel) is well-produced and visually striking, but what’s really on display here is Panera’s sincerity. While it’s unlikely that the new campaign will be an internet sensation, I have to admit that it’s nice to see a fast-food advertisement where the brand’s intention is to showcase the rewarding and authentic experience they provide.
The expressed theme of Panera’s new campaign (“that you should leave feeling better than when you came in”) is a bit of a departure from the usual tone of fast-food advertisements. Burger King has relied heavily on the comedic value of its “King” mascot for several years now, and Dairy Queen recently co-opted Old Spice’s pseudo-arrogant marketing style with their new campaign. Panera, by contrast, isn’t trying to tickle our funny bone—they’re cordially inviting us to enjoy their brand experience, which they suggest far exceeds the competition.
To be fair, Panera was never really branded as a traditional fast-food eatery to begin with. They’ve been decidedly upscale from day one, and they’ve been perfectly content to rely on word-of-mouth and positive buzz in acquiring their devoted customer base. It’s worked out well for them—so far. Whether their new marketing push will resonate with the general public and gain them a new base of loyal customers is anyone’s guess. Then again, in an interview with Forbes, Panera’s Chief Marketing Officer insists that the campaign is higher-minded than that. He sees it as “a message of collective optimism” and says that “the hope with the campaign is to elevate Panera from a brand customers prefer, to one customers love.” Those are some high hopes, right there—admirable though.
They’re preaching to the choir as far as this blogger is concerned. I’ve been a frequent flyer at Panera Airlines for some time now, and I intend to stay one. I’d imagine that a single dining experience or two would be enough to establish Panera as a favorite destination among new visitors—it’s just a matter of getting new visitors through the doors. Once they’re in, they’re practically guaranteed to be hooked (but again, that’s just an opinion).
In any case, Panera isn’t looking to generate more foot-traffic just yet; they’re looking to foster brand loyalty among current customers, which is an interesting way to move forward as a brand, and it certainly makes great food for thought!
What do you think of Panera’s new campaign? Should they have made an attempt at humor instead? Did you like what I did with the “food for thought” comment at the end of the article? Are you even reading this italicized section of the post?
Image by Samantha Celera.