Panera Bread is Really Cooking on Gas!

A hypothetical situation to ponder:


It’s the middle of the night, and you happen to be on your computer. Then while browsing the internet, you stumble across an ad on a website with this amazing perfectly seared steak oozing with creamy Vermont white cheddar and topped with bright pickled red onions all grilled on Hoagie Roll.  Too irresistible to resist, you click on that ad, it links you directly to its website. After that, for the rest of the week, you see Roasted Turkey and Avocado BLT, Roasted Beet-Quinoa&Citrus Salad or Bistro French Onion Soup following you on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and every other social media platforms.


What would you do? Make a dash to that place, maybe?


Let me put you out of your misery. Go to Panera Bread!




Originally founded in 1981, Panera Bread is a fast casual restaurant with more than 2,000 locations across the United States and Canada. It is considered an amazing brand when it comes to the aspect of continued evolution and ability to adapt itself to the market as we saw with the setting of its goal to stop using any artificial ingredients last year with the “No no list” campaign or the launch of its “Rapid Pick-Up Program”. And how does Panera raise awareness of its aforementioned menus and new features?  This is where social media chimes in.


Panera typically spends around $90 million in media annually. Beyond the TV spots, there is radio, out of home ads and online ads including paid social media. Focusing on social media advertising, not only is it a great way to run targeted ads with real-time results but also an effective way to generate higher converting leads and build relationships with the customer. Let’s take a quick look at how Panera is on …


Let’s take the Panera Rapid Pick-Up program for example. To bolster awareness, Panera Bread partnered with creative agency Anomaly and media agency Maxus to develop the ads then ran a video ad campaign that would convey a consistent message over Facebook (also Instagram). Instead of spreading the ads all over the place and running the risk of annoying the audience, Panera maximized Facebook’s core targeting feature’s potentials to direct the ads to a specific group of people who have liked the Panera Page, as well as health and fitness advocates and parents. Not only that, it also targeted people interested in competitor brands. With Facebook, it reached millions of people hitting 8 million video views within only 2 months.



A great example for Panera’s ads on this platform would be a new clean Panera kids’ menu campaign. Why Instagram? Because for this specific campaign, the company aimed to achieve a creative and engaging way to share its Kids Meal Promise. It was a month-long campaign focusing on the idea that kids should know what’s in their food. It was educational in a fun and easy to understand way. The part I especially love about this ad is that ad copy directed its audience to the company’s microsite: where parents could explore Panera’s Kids Meal Promise for themselves. Again, it utilized Facebook’s core targeting tools to target its market.



Advertising in video form is my personal favorite. As people are reading less and have shorter attention spans, video advertising with valuable content is key. YouTube is a unique combination of video access, sharing and creates opportunity for audience engagement. Sight, sound and motion can evoke the emotional involvement with the content that the brand’s trying to convey. In this realm, Panera is epic as its video keeps replaying in the back of my mind. I love the messages it conveys through well-constructed short clips. It is clear, clean, simple, yet intriguing and I would love to see more of Panera ads on YouTube in frequency.  I mean, what could be a better way to make people crave for clean food more than this? However, last time Panera did something like this was a year ago. Panera, I am waiting to see something new here!


My suggestion would be for Panera Bread to be more active on Pinterest. Its account already portrays the brand’s core and food journeys beautifully. With Pinterest ads, it can capture intent and boost engagement with its Pins even more. Pinterest is the channel Panera should not be neglecting as its main users correlate with its target consumer. Also, Twitter can act as a great tool for interacting with the customer and getting the message out. Perhaps advertising there is not such a bad idea.


When it comes to reaching its target audience through social media platforms, Panera Bread definitely deserves a big round of applause. As each of them has its own uniqueness and target audience, Panera is choosing each of them wisely and utilizing it to the fullest extent. Most importantly, it crafts its content in the most engaging and interesting way to captivate us all. It understands its own brand positioning, goals and that reflects in all of Panera Bread’s marketing campaigns.


And now, I’m off   to Panera to satisfy my craving!

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Brand and Politics…yay or nay?

Here’s a question:


Should a brand be expressive about its political point of views?


Because of the internet and social media, the world is right underneath your fingertips and everything you say will probably go viral, become carved into people’s memory and shape their perception. In the case of Under Armour, the CEO and founder Kevin Plank has definitely made his standpoint pretty clear.

“To have a pro-business president is something that is real asset for the country” – Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank on CNBC on Feb7,2017


After Plank expressed that enthusiastic statement for Trump, amplified by social media, the Under Armour topic became the talk of the town. The hashtag #BoybottUnderArmour went viral and people couldn’t stop criticizing it.  Shortly after, some of the company’s athletes such as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Stephen Curry spoke out publicly against Plank’s comments. Although the comment was made on the television platform, it became rapidly widespread and got worse due to exposure through social media, especially Twitter, as Under Armour is highly reliant on Millennial shoppers who tend to be more socially liberal and active on social media than other groups. This is a great example of a brand’s reputation being endangered because of a social media crisis.

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We all do have opinions. Some we are better off keeping to ourselves or be sure to choose wisely when, where and how to express them. Whether it’s just Plank’s personal political point of view or that comment was meant to be a Trump endorsement, the decision to enunciate a view in a polarized political climate was a mistake. Working closely or agreeing with Trump, who some groups see as sexist, racist and homophobic can never be a good perception of any brand and there is absolutely no necessity for brands like Under Armour to discuss politics. In this case, silence is golden.


Consumers today see a brand as a person with personality and what that person does or believes in matters. This situation could most doubtlessly have been avoided. Just don’t talk politics! There is indeed a saying in Thai that there are mainly 3 things we all shouldn’t randomly discuss: love, religion and of course, politics. Just because media platforms have made it easier for us all to throw our two cents in, doesn’t mean that we have to voice all of our opinions. We have to be extra careful today as whatever is imprinted on social media will stay a part of us forever. In this situation, hopefully Under Armour won’t be associated with Trump’s unfavorable personality traits for years to come!


Even though Under Armour tried to fix the situation by issuing a press release clarifying that “We engage in policy, not politics”, its shares had already gone from neutral to negative. Plank took a step in an attempt to limit the damage done by taking out a full-page ad in the Baltimore Sun stating that “in a business television interview, he answered a question with a choice of words that did not accurately reflect his intent. Under Armour exemplify equal rights and believe that immigration is a source of strength, diversity and innovation.” But trying to sway people’s perception of what has already happened through sagacious recapitulation …does it really work? And how effective is it?


Brands should stand for all consumers as a unified whole and not take sides. There is no harm in staying neutral as in a world where content is king, there are already tons of opportunities and boundless space for creativity and pragmatic content. Plank coming forward to fix his first statement was the right thing to do, however, we must acknowledge that it takes time to recover when you drop the ball on social media these days.


When it comes to a crisis situation like this, marketing and PR should be working together in harmony as it should be dealt with in a timely and efficient manner, preferably on the same media platform as the dilemma happened. While PR should be doing its job handling with all the brand’s relations with the public, the marketing team should also help by coming up with new positive campaigns or messages to get the audience to move on and hopefully start focusing on a new topic and new journey as soon as possible.


I look forward to seeing how a global company like Under Armour attempt to turn this crisis into an opportunity through their future content but I am indeed sure that they are now in no doubt…. branding and politics in a Trump presidency era do not sit well together.



Snapchat – We ain’t seen nothing yet!

Here’s my secret:


I honestly didn’t know how to use Snapchat until a couple of months ago.


I actually learned about Snapchat through Instagram when people I follow started posting their versions of smiley puppy selfies. They even have video clips for them too! Every time they open their mouths, a giant massive tongue will pop out…. twisting and tilting their head a little bit, SUPER CUTE! I want one. How can I get one? I called my trend guru, my younger sister.


“It’s Snapchat and you have to HAVE it!”, she said. Apparently, everyone’s on it. As a future marketer, I felt the urgency to download it and explore how it functions.



Originally launched in 2011 by CEO Evan Spiegel based on a unique idea of sending photos and videos to friends who can only view the snaps for up to 10 seconds then they will disappear forever, Snapchat rapidly became a huge hit among teenagers. Today, according to Statista, U.S. teenagers in Spring 2016 voted Snapchat as the most important social network of their generation and as of May 2016, it had generated over 10 billion mobile video views per day. Thanks to my sister, now I am part of the trendy youngster group and can proudly call myself a ‘Snapchatter’!


As recently as March 2nd, 2017, Snap Inc. has entered and begun trading on the New York Stock Exchange with an initial valuation of $24 billion and as a result is  once again  under the spotlight. The real question is, how can Snapchat sustainably thrive and stay cool among its competitors? I came across this article on Adweek about 7 Challenges Snapchat’s Parent Company Has to Overcome Before It Can Be Wall Street’s ‘New Facebook’ and it has some interesting points worth discussing.


Because we are living in a fast-paced world, I agree with the article when it says Snapchat’s user base must continue to expand, in regards to age base and internationally.  It’s actually very interesting for me to learn that Snapchat’s audience is growing thanks to older Americans in the 45-to-54 years old age bracket, while younger consumer groups like the Millennials are actually declining. Why? The answer is because Instagram is pulling some younger visitors away. However, I do think that there is a silver lining in this. Growing its customer base can turn into a great opportunity if Snapchat knows how to take advantage of this and monetize effectively. Growing its user base is surely key and make them stay competitive.

Seems like Millennials aren’t the only ones who enjoy a good dog filter!


Instagram Stories is definitely Snapchat’s main competitor and biggest threat. I know a lot of friends who previously were both active on Snapchat and Instagram, but since the launch of Instagram Stories, they are not using Snapchat as much anymore. Instagram has really taken what Snapchat has and imitated it to the larger audience it already enjoys. Snapchat certainly needs to step up its game to stand ahead of all other platforms that can turn on ‘live video’ and unfortunately, in this case, only cute lenses and filters might not be enough.



Another crucial point for Snapchat is to avoid ad fatigue as a recent study shows that more than 60% of Snapchat users skip ads. Guilty as charged, I do so too! Indeed, it is one of the reasons my friends decided to go for Instagram Stories instead. Snapchat should figure out how to bring brands onto its platform without disrupting consumer experience. At the same time, it has to keep up with ad metrics demand as its competitors like Google and Facebook are better known for their ad metrics. We are living in a data-driven world after all!


To keep up with its competitors, I think it is crucial Snapchat must not stop developing and adding new features to keep up with current trends. In the past, it did quite an amazing job releasing Spectacles, which are sunglasses with an embedded camera. Moreover, CEO Evan Spiegel has recently begun calling Snapchat a “camera company” and is reportedly working on a secret drone project.  In my humble opinion, Snapchat is letting off a young, innovative image by moving as fast as sending a snap to a friend. For me personally, I love consuming news via Snapchat as it is short, precise and fun. I think it has a lot of potential there. Anyhow, while tapping itself into hardware industry can be risky, I literally cannot take my eyes off the company and am definitely looking forward to hearing what they are up to next.


I personally think Snapchat has just started its journey and still has a long way to go.


HAPPY Snapchatting ! 🙂