Indie agency Cramer-Krasselt has landed the creative account for Panera following a review.
Panera CMO Michael Simon told Ad Age that the new agency comes as the chain is looking to take a new direction, especially considering that many fast-casual and fast-food chains are promoting freshness and better ingredients.
According to Mr. Simon, Panera's goal for its marketing will be to promote "how we embed purpose in everything we do. ... C-K had an idea that we felt changed the dialogue and conversation from functional to affiliated values." He added that the agency's work will likely focus on how it sources and prepares its food, how it creates an environment where customers will want to linger, and how the chain ultimately gives back to the community.
The account will be handled out of C-K's Chicago office. It had been at Interpublic Group of Cos.' Mullen; the chain and the agency split in December over what appeared to be creative differences. The review did not affect WPP's Maxus, Panera's media-buying agency. Consultant AAR Partners oversaw the review.
In the final round of the creative pitch, the review was narrowed to four agencies: WPP's Y&R, Chicago; indie agencies Olson and Cramer-Krasselt; and Omnicom Group's GSD&M. But executives familiar with the review said that it came down to a shootout between GSD&M and Cramer-Krasselt.
Panera has been performing well for some time. Its systemwide sales were up 10.1% last year, to $3.3 billion, according to Technomic, and the number of its U.S. locations was up 7.2% to 1,480.
The chain nearly a year ago launched its first major TV campaign, "Make today better," which was handled by Mullen. Panera has steadily increased its marketing budget under Mr. Simon, who joined the company in October 2009 and was previously at Campbell Soup Co. The company upped its measured-media spending 17% last year, to $42 million, from $36 million in 2010, according to Kantar Media. The company had spent about $23.6 million in 2009.
The news for GSD&M is mitigated by its win of the Walgreens creative account, which Ad Age reported earlier today.