Panera Bread Company aspires to elevate the lives of its guests and associates while also making a difference in the communities it serves. Panera unveils a new initiative that for the first time articulates this purpose-driven philosophy.

“Panera began with a simple commitment: to bake fresh bread every morning in our bakery-cafes,” says Michael Simon, Panera’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer. “That single, powerful commitment set the stage for a series of deliberate, challenging decisions that have essentially made this company what it is — how it conducts business, the kind of cultural values it wants to reflect, and the impact it wants to have on society.  
“We’re now putting what drove those decisions into two words: ‘Live Consciously.’”
To launch the platform, Panera introduces a new creative campaign focused on its brand belief and values rather than on any specific product. The campaign features advertising in several channels — national cable and local television, digital video and digital display, and social — with national print to follow next month.
Developed in partnership with Cramer-Krasselt, of Chicago, the campaign links the “Live Consciously” platform to two more words — “Eat Deliciously” — in referring broadly to the company’s food offerings. The two concepts are shown as mutually reinforcing in a circular relationship.
The first of many television spots explaining the development of the brand platform shows how it evolved from the initial commitment to bake fresh bread. In the voice-over for the 60-second spot, the narrator says:  
“That decision made us wonder: ‘What else could we do the right way?’ So we talked to our farmers and our chefs and asked, ‘Could we make food that lived up to our bread? And could it be food you can trust, with ingredients like antibiotic-free chicken? Then, each night, when we close our doors, could we come together as a community and help feed people in need?’”
On screen, the spot offers a whimsical depiction of the unfolding of this decision-making process utilizing a Rube Goldberg-type contraption. A chef places a ball of bread dough, signifying the initial commitment to baking, on a scale, which tips. The ball is propelled along a track winding past tomatoes, antibiotic-free chickens, and salads and soups — all showing the mounting impact of the original decision. At the end, a pennant on-screen reads: “We donate our leftover baked goods every night.”
Marshall Ross, executive vice president and chief creative officer at Cramer-Krasselt, says that Panera’s brand infused even the way his firm produced the creative for the initiative.
“Our goal was to find a way to tell a memorable story that also felt completely authentic,” he says. “So everything about this work is handmade; every element of art direction and performance is human-powered. Too many marketers will ‘fake’ real. With a client like Panera — genuine at its core — we just couldn’t do that. And we’re thrilled with the result — with how the look and feel offers a powerful meaning all its own. Even if you didn't hear the voice-over, you'd see something special about Panera.”
Panera is also launching another application of the “Live Consciously” brand platform, a social media campaign called Food Chain Reaction. The campaign urges individuals to join with others to create online circles of five friends on Panera’s Facebook page. For every circle of five friends formed, Panera will work with its Foundation to provide a bowl of its nutritious Low-Fat Vegetarian Black Bean soup to a person in need through its alliance with Feeding America, up to a total of 500,000 bowls.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one in six Americans — including one in four children — is “food insecure,” meaning they have limited or uncertain access to adequate food. Panera’s Food Chain Reaction reflects the proportion of those in need.
In much the same way that its menu has evolved from an initial commitment to fresh bread, Panera’s efforts to combat local hunger and help fix a broken food system have grown out of its original commitment to donate bread and baked goods each night from its bakery-cafes. The Food Chain Reaction is the latest in a series of company initiatives in this crucial area.
Last November, the company and the Panera Bread Foundation launched a strategic alliance with Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief charity, to stock food banks in more than 75 markets with Panera’s Black Bean soup. And just last month, in Boston, the Foundation opened its fifth non-profit Panera Cares community cafe, where customers are asked to share in the responsibility of feeding those in need.
By raising awareness of the company’s anti-hunger efforts, Simon notes, the “Live Consciously” platform should help Panera expand those efforts even more. “To the extent that our customers come to feel more strongly about us, and that people embrace programs such as our Food Chain Reaction, we’re going to be able to elevate the discussion and have an even greater impact on the serious problem of hunger in this country.”
Charitable Giving, News, Restaurant Operations, Panera Bread