New York indie agency Walrus has picked up the U.S. marketing business for U.K. healthy fast food chain Pret A Manger after a review.
Walrus will handle in-store, digital, and market-specific event efforts for the chain; the marketing will focus on highlighting Pret A Manger's menu's variety. Previously U.S. marketing was handled by Pret in-house. U.K. agency Balloon Dog handles marketing overseas.
Walrus' work with Pret is coming at a time of expansion for the U.K. based chain, which positions itself as one that offers fresh, preservative-free food. Privately-owned Pret first opened in the U.S. in 2000 in New York, and now has 50-plus locations in New York, Washington D.C., Chicago and Boston and plans to open 15 additional locations in 2013. Worldwide, Pret has more than 300 locations, mostly in the U.K., but it also has locations in Paris and Hong Kong, among other cities.
"Walrus got up to speed on our business very quickly and impressed us with its ability to capture the brand's unique personality creatively," said Ellen Roggemann, VP-brand marketing for Pret in U.S., in a statement. "We were looking for an agency that could act as extension of our marketing team, and Walrus proved to be just that."
Walrus' Chief Creative Officer Deacon Webster said in a statement: "From day one, Pret a Manger's mission has been to create handmade all-natural foods, and they have carved out an enviable niche in the quick-service restaurant category sticking to that mission. What's refreshing is that it has created a very distinct, modern and witty brand by eschewing the traditional rules of fast-food advertising."
Pret in 2011 had estimated U.S. systemwide sales of $46.2 million in its 39 stores, up nearly 30% from $35.8 million and 31 stores in 2010, according to Technomic. The chain is now a tiny ad spender -- measured media was negligible, according to Kantar Media -- but it will likely advertise more as it expands.