Panda Express Talks New Brand-Focused Advertising Direction


Last month Panda Express launched its multimedia campaign, “However You Panda.” The creative work, which focuses on a variety of customers enjoying their regular Panda Express dishes, marks the first brand advertising campaign for the 40-year-old family-owned chain, created by advertising agency of record The Many.

CPG Insider spoke with Panda Express’ Fabiola Del Rio, vice president of integrated marketing communications at Panda Restaurant Group, about the work, and what’s next for Panda.

CPG Insider: Why launch the Panda’s first brand campaign now, in such a promo-heavy marketplace?

Del Rio: Historically, we’ve concentrated on campaigns highlighting limited-time offers rather than core, fan-favorite dishes. Building upon the success of our last few campaigns and the opportunity to explore a new integrated strategic approach, we unlocked a unique opening. This campaign allows us to showcase what our consumers know us for and consistently return: our core. It’s a strategic move to rejuvenate consideration for the brand, not just awareness of limited-time offers.



CPG Insider: How does this fit in with your strategic marketing goals?

Del Rio: “However You Panda” was a pivotal shift for us. It signals a strategic move towards emphasizing the overall brand experience rather than individual menu items. It's an invitation for our consumers to embrace our tasty food and the memorable experiences and connections associated with Panda Express.

CPG Insider: Can you expand on your strategic plan?  

Del Rio: The shift from a product-driven campaign to a more insight-driven approach in our work is really exciting for the brand. We wanted to ensure we captured attention and built affinity by prioritizing attention over impressions with high-impact media placements and unique creative that tapped into nostalgia, intergenerational stories, and more to highlight moments created around the core Panda dishes. By highlighting personal experiences tied to our core, we create lasting memories and deeper connections.

CPG Insider: You recently added chili crisp shrimp to the menu for a limited time. Is this a reflection of changing American tastes toward spicier food?

Del Rio: As a family-owned business that focuses specifically on American Chinese food, we are uniquely positioned to bring authentic recipes and wok-fired dishes to our guests. Our heritage and our flavors allow us to be a bridge across cultures -- something we think is critical in America right now.

CPG Insider: What's new on the horizon for Panda?

Del Rio: Every year, Lunar New Year is a special time for the brand -- so stay tuned for what's to come in 2024!

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