Panera creates educational social gaming platform

ST. LOUIS: Panera Bread has stepped into the social gaming space by launching a microsite to engage consumers and offer healthy eating tips.

ST. LOUIS: Panera Bread has stepped into the social gaming space by launching a microsite to engage consumers and offer healthy eating tips.

The Panera “Eat Smarts” microsite has three levels with five games apiece, as well as videos, quizzes, and challenges focused on nutritional information and healthy food choices, said Linn Parrish, VP of PR at Panera Bread.

“We realized that we had an opportunity to do a better job in talking about how you can eat well at Panera, so we came up with the idea that if we did it an entertaining and educational manner, it might be something that our core customer could enjoy,” she explained.

Parrish added that the goal of the microsite is not only to teach consumers how to eat more nutritiously at the chain, but also in their everyday lives.

The company created the games with Badgeville, Paradigm, and Fleishman-Hillard, its PR agency partner since last year, said Parrish. Their target demographic is women between 30 and 50 years old, which is one of the fastest-growing groups playing social games, she said.

To get the word out about Panera Eat Smarts, the brand has focused most of its outreach on blogger engagement, especially nutrition, fitness, wellness, and mom bloggers, said Parrish.

Fleishman is also working on traditional media relations for the brand, targeting women's publications and promoting the games on Twitter and Facebook, she said. Panera's Facebook page has more than 1.1 million “likes,” but only 15,000 consumers follow it on Twitter.

Parrish added that the company is also telling its database of MyPanera club members about the site. Panera's Wi-Fi landing page directs users to the social gaming platform, she added.

Eat Smarts is a “test” for Panera in the social gaming sector, but the brand is “feeling good about it.” With a framework now in place, Panera may launch games and quizzes through the year, such as for eating healthy for the holidays.

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