Anomaly has entered the casual restaurant space.
The New York shop has landed lead creative responsibilities on Panera Bread after a review, outstripping two other agencies that the chain did not identify. Media spending on the assignment is estimated at more than $90 million.
The new agency succeeds Cramer-Krasselt, which had worked on the brand for two years. Mullen was Panera's lead agency before that. Panera CMO Michael Simon acknowledged the turnover but said, "In the end, the work has to deliver the business goals." And in Anomaly, he feels he has found a shop that can do just that.
Anomaly's past work for the likes of Budweiser and Dick's Sporting Goods put the MDC Partners shop on Panera's initial consideration list, but it was its strategic thinking and ability to deliver more than just advertising (content, new product ideas, etc.) that set it apart from other contenders, according to Simon.
The challenge facing Panera (and most fast-casual restaurants) is to move beyond what the chain serves and establish an emotional bond with consumers. Easier said than done, but Simon believes the idea Anomaly pitched in the review represents a starting point for getting there.
"We're in the refining stages of the campaign, but I'm probably as excited about this as certainly anything I've seen at Panera," said Simon, who has worked at the chain since 2009. "It does all the things that we're looking for in creating a big idea, really showcasing our differentiation—both with our food and the experience of Panera—in a really emotional, compelling way."
The new agency's first campaign is expected in the first quarter of next year.
Media planning and buying were not part of the review and remain at WPP Group's Maxus in New York.