Panera Bread gets a gold star for scrambling to capitalize on a fluky social media opportunity.
As Twitter users couldn’t help but notice, #Bagelgate blew up on the social channel last week.
A recap for non-tweeters: Midwesterner Alek Krautmann set off a national furor after innocently tweeting a photo of bagels sliced vertically, like a loaf of bread (above), instead of horizontally, as is customary.
The bagels were purchased at St. Louis Bread Company — the original name of Panera Bread, and the name still used in the St. Louis market, where it was founded in 1983.
Krautmann dubbed the alternate slicing method the “St. Louis secret,” noting that the technique creates more slices and more surface area for cream cheese.
But bagel aficionados — and yes, New Yorkers in particular —went apoplectic over what they deem to be a cultural and culinary sacrilege.
Notables weighing in included Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York (who tweeted “St Louis, fuhgeddaboudit”) and NYC Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea (who thanked posters for “reporting this crime”), noted the Associated Press.
Panera Bread tells Marketing Daily that within 12 hours after #BagelGate went viral, its marketing team had conceptualized and implemented billboards throughout St. Louis. The OOH ads feature an image of a vertically sliced bagel, the words “STL PROUD” and “#SaintLouisProud,” and the St. Louis Bread logo (which is visually the same as Panera’s logo, aside from the name itself).
Panera also scurried to work with Arch Apparelto design and sell a $32 custom T shirt bearing “Bread Co.” on its front and “Sliced in Saint Louis” on its back.
Panera employees at 25 locations also donned the shirts, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.