Amazon Sampling Jamba Juice

It used to be only health nuts and marathoners would down fruit smoothies with weird names. But now one Bay Area company is trying to widen the appeal.

Jamba Juice, the California chain known for its made-to-order smoothies with names like Peach Pleasure and Citrus Squeeze, has tapped Amazon Advertising to handle branding and some advertising. The decison follows a review of several undisclosed Northern California agencies. Initial billings are expected to pass the $1 million mark.

Lynda Pearson, creative director at Amazon in San Francisco, said Jamba is an ideal client because it offers people on the go an appealing alternative to burgers and french fries.

“It’s fruit, it’s healthy, it makes people happy,” she said. “The stores smell like fresh-squeezed oranges, and the employees seem to be having one big lovefest. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?”

Marketing officials at Jamba said the company’s rapid growth and the surging popularity of healthier fast food in general led to the hiring of Amazon.

“Amazon showed they understand who we are today and what the Jamba brand can become tomorrow,” said Michael Keller, client vp of marketing.

Jamba, based in San Francisco, earlier this year hired Burger King president Paul Clayton as CEO. The company operates 350 stores in 20 states, but has little presence in the East and South.

Company officials say they are angling to become the first widely recognized smoothie brand in the country.

“They want to position themselves as a meal replacement,” Pearson said. “Jamba kind of slides right into people’s lives. They could redefine what fast food is.”

A few years ago, the company’s ad account was handled by Butler, Shine & Stern in Sausalito, Calif., but it was taken back in-house.

Jamba Juice units offer smoothies made with strawberries, bananas, mangos and other fruits. Customers can customize or “boost” their drinks with ingredients like soy protein, fiber, vitamins and ginseng. They can also order freshly squeezed carrot juice, orange juice and wheatgrass.

Amazon was founded four years ago by San Francisco creatives Pearson and Millie Olson. The shop claims annual billings of about $35 million.