ATLANTA: Sandwich chain Blimpie International has begun a major media relations campaign to tout its new store design, new logo, and new menu offerings.
It expects to announce a major cause-marketing initiative in the next two months and a sports-related promotion this summer, all part of an effort to reposition the brand, said CMO Mark Mears.
"What we're doing now is creating waves of news," Mears said.
A five-person team in Weber Shandwick's Atlanta office is working on the account. Blimpie's hired Weber in January.
The Weber team e-mailed 250 print journalists in late March, concentrating on Blimpie's top markets, which include Atlanta, where it is based, Phoenix, Omaha, New York, and Tampa, said Brooke Wilson, the Weber senior account executive who is co-head of the Blimpie's team.
This month the campaign will expand to broadcast outlets with plans to drop off samples of new sandwiches.
Blimpie's began offering three new sandwiches on April 1 that use Ciabatta bread and are served hot.
The chain wants to reposition itself from being thought of as a neighborhood sub shop to a contemporary deli, said Mears.
"We've been a brand at a crossroads," Mears said. Blimpie's has been in business 41 years, helping to create the sub category. But in recent years, competitors like Subway have benefited from using a healthy image while others such as Panera and the Atlantic Bread Company have taken the sandwich shop concept slightly upscale from where Blimpie's is.
Blimpie's store redesign and its new sandwiches will help remind the media that "we've been about innovation," said Mears.