Panera Bread’s 2017 Marketing Campaign: “100% Clean” Ingredients

Panera’s journey towards the use of only natural ingredients began in 2015, with its “food as it should be” slogan. Source: Google Images.

Panera Bread is kicking off the year with a new, bold marketing campaign. Following two years of moving towards the removal of artificial additives in its food, using the slogan “food as it should be,” the company has now reached its goal of removing 100% of all artificial additives in its food products – and its ready to share the news.

Panera has reached its goal of serving 100% clean food, which means food free of artificial flavors, sweeteners, preservatives, and colors. The company was scheduled to begin a marketing campaign to tout that “100% of [its] food is 100% clean” on Jan 9, 2017, according to a recent Advertising Age article. Though its marketing slogan of “food as it should be” has been used by the company since 2015, it will be reinforced by its “100% clean” marketing heavily through the end of its first quarter in 2017, and continue the message steadily thereafter.

The “100% clean” marketing campaign will include the use of TV commercials (example below) and billboards, as well as T-shirts worn by employees at its over 2,000 stores. Panera is also using more direct interaction with fans by allowing them to sample its “100% clean” products and posting to social media about their experiences with the changes. Chris Hollander, senior VP of marketing and head of Panera’s marketing, says the company is also moving towards increased use of digital and mobile, but will continue to heavily use traditional methods such as TV.

Despite the removal of artificial ingredients from its food products and while the changes are likely to improve the appeal of its food to health-conscious consumers, Panera seems to be avoiding words such as “healthy” in its marketing communications. This may be due to the high calorie, fat, and sodium content of many of it food options. The young food scientists and writers of the blog Don’t Eat the Pseudoscience claim that Panera’s “No-No List” of artificial ingredients is promoting pseudoscience, as they are not necessarily more harmful then the alternative naturally-sourced ingredients. The writers go on to remind consumers that while commendable, the removal of such artificial ingredients does not make the restaurant’s food healthy, as “some items… are not only rather high in calories – per serving – but may also approach one’s daily limits of sodium, saturated fat, and total fat”. Panera’s Kitchen Sink cookie, for instance, contains 800 calories and 43 grams of fat, according to the Advertising Age article.

Regardless, Panera Bread has been working hard to reach this goal of “100% clean” food – and the results seem favorable. According to the Advertising Age article, Panera saw a 3% increase in revenue in its third quarter of 2016, as well as a 1.7% rise in sales at its longstanding locations. Panera’s new marketing campaign is an opportunity to expand and capitalize on a seemingly already successful strategy.

From a marketing management perspective, here are some questions to consider:

  • What methods might Panera Bread use to determine the effectiveness of its “100% clean” marketing campaign?
  • What market(s) do you believe Panera Bread is targeting with the new marketing campaign?