ATLANTA: Finn Partners has been named PR AOR for Auntie Anne’s and Carvel, almost one year after Cinnabon – which sits under Focus Brands, the same parent company -- brought the firm on to expand its brand leadership efforts.
Finn Partners was awarded the business last month based on the "successful" work the firm has been doing as Cinnabon’s AOR, said Loryn Franco, director of PR for Focus Brands.
"We have looked at other agencies, but because we had such a great experience with Finn with Cinnabon, this is just an extension of that," she said. "We did not send out an RFP for the other two brands."
Finn is aiding Carvel and Auntie Anne’s with media relations across national, regional, and trade publications; PR campaigns; new product announcements; and store openings.
Focus Brands has tasked Finn with raising awareness of Cinnabon, Carvel, and Auntie Anne’s. Some upcoming campaigns Finn will work on include flavor launches at Carvel and new product introductions for Auntie Anne’s.
Finn will also continue to aid Cinnabon as its PR AOR with strategic consultation as it rolls out a new logo, look, and feel on its consumer packaged goods and in its bakeries – a brand revamp that officially launched in November.
Franco added that consumers will see the brands combining locations and menu items.
"This year you will see a lot of Cinnabon/Auntie Anne’s locations, side by side in the mall," she said. "You can now get Carvel at some Cinnabons and we are also combining menu items to put Carvel ice cream in the middle of some Cinnabon rolls."
Finn’s primary focus is the US market, but the firm will also be helping the brands globally with expanding media and influencer relationships and PR around franchise sales.
"We will have Finn do press for new market launches and any big events that carry through internationally," said Franco. "They will also work with us on the introduction of different menu items such as Nutella and Biscoff. Those flavors do better internationally than they do domestically."
The brands join Finn Partners’ portfolio of food and beverage clients, such as Omaha Steaks, Jamba Juice, J.M. Smucker, Thermador, Dole Packaged Foods, Levy Restaurants, Pinnacle Vodka, and Treasury Wine Estates.
Fishman Public Relations was previously the PR AOR for Carvel, Auntie Anne’s, and Cinnabon.
"We went with a different agency because Fishman was primarily [focused on] franchise sales," said Franco. "They didn’t have the consumer experience, so we decided to go with a consumer PR-focused agency."
Finn partner Miranda Harper is leading a team of seven on work across the three brands.
The contract on the account runs to the end of 2016. Budget information was not disclosed.
Cliff Berman, consumer marketing director at Finn, said that in the past year, the firm has helped Cinnabon get mentions on TV shows including Better Call Saul and The Today Show, and movies such as Daddy’s Home.
"Part of the fun of working on these brands is that we are taking great brands and making them relevant and getting a lot of buzz around them and getting involvement in cool movies and TV shows," he said.
Focus Brands restructured at the beginning of last year. Until January 2015, Focus Brands was comprised of Moe's Southwest Grill, McAlister's Deli, Schlotzsky's Bakery Café, Cinnabon, Carvel, and Auntie Anne’s in one group. At that point, it placed the latter three in the snack group, a separate entity from the restaurant group.
Last June, Focus Brands named Allison+Partners as AOR for its restaurant group, which is comprised of Moe’s Southwest Grill, McAlister's Deli, and Schlotzsky's Bakery Café.
"Moving forward, we are not separating snacks from restaurants; we have fast casual and quick service brands," said Franco. "As we are growing and looking to bring on new acquisitions, they may not fit in those categories, so we are trying not to distinguish between the two."