Bakery Readies New ’05 Strategy

The Atlanta Bread Co. will ask its new ad agency to focus on increasing business at individual stores via efforts such as local promotions, as opposed to broader branding work, the client’s top marketer said last week.

The Atlanta-based bakery and sandwich chain is interviewing seven contenders for its creative and media account this week and next. The two-year incumbent, Atlanta independent Eighth & Means, resigned last month, saying the client was demanding more work but not increasing compensation. ABC dismissed those claims, noting that it has outgrown the 20-person shop.

The semifinalists are Match, Scharbo & Co., Huey/Paprocki and Ames Scullin O’Haire, all Atlanta independents; Interpublic Group’s Fitzgerald + Co. in Atlanta; and two other, undisclosed agencies. Three or four finalists will make presentations before a decision by year’s end, said vp of marketing Kim Jensen-Pitts, adding that 2005 spending would reach $2 million.

The review has accelerated a shift in marketing strategy the 160-store chain had initially set for 2006, when it plans to go beyond the 200-store mark. With the new agency as an impetus, ABC will change its focus next year from its current broad branding efforts to building individual-store sales, as the company has neared the end of its projected geographic spread, Jensen-Pitts said. “The whole focus of the company has changed,” she explained.

Jensen-Pitts said ABC, a privately held company, expects sales this year to reach at least $200 million. Its offerings are similar to the much larger and publicly traded Panera Bread Co., whose 2003 sales were $356 million, according to Hoover’s Online.