Linhart helps Noodles & Company raise profile

The firm supported the chain with a National Zucchini Day campaign starring Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb.

BROOMFIELD, CO: Noodles & Company has selected Linhart PR as its PR AOR.

Linhart’s initial focus was the restaurant’s launch of zucchini noodles, or Zoodles, in early May, for which the firm put together a comprehensive PR strategy, said Danielle Moore, director of communications at Noodles & Company.

"Oftentimes, when restaurants introduce any menu item, it becomes old news pretty quickly," she said. "We wanted to keep [Zoodles] fresh."

Noodles & Company is embracing National Zucchini Day, which takes place on Wednesday. On Wednesday morning’s edition of Today, hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb used "spiralizing stationary bikes" created by the chain’s ad agency, Barkley, to set a Guinness world record for spiralized zucchini.

"As you pedal, you can spiralize zucchinis," explained Moore. "Linhart came up with idea of pitching Today."

The hosts competed against each other to see who could spiralize two pounds of zucchini in one minute to set a record. Unfortunately, both Kathie Lee and Hoda came up a few Zoodles short.

On Monday, Noodles & Company posted a teaser video about the Today stunt on Facebook.

The chain is allowing customers to swap in Zoodles in place of classic noodles for free (normally a 75-cent charge) on National Zucchini Day.

Linhart is also working with Noodles & Company on its Life at Noodles campaign, which aims to make sure its employees love life both at and away from work. The initiative has included a benefits expansion, six weeks of maternity leave, two weeks of paternity leave, $10,000 in adoption assistance, and free breast-milk shipping for moms who are traveling.

The fast-casual restaurant chain started working with Linhart on a project basis in February, but officially brought the firm on as its PR AOR last month. There was no RFP process.

Linhart is handling national and local PR, crisis activity, and consumer PR strategy for Noodles & Company, said Moore. Budget information was not disclosed.

Moore enlisted Linhart following a positive relationship with the firm when she worked at Chipotle Mexican Grill as PR and communications manager. Linhart handles national field marketing PR for Chipotle.

Kelly Janhunen, Linhart VP and partner, is leading a team of three staffers on the account. Emma Garten, account supervisor at Linhart, is Noodles & Company’s day-to-day contact.

ICR, the incumbent on the account, stopped PR AOR duties in January, but continues to handle investor relations for Noodles & Company.

"ICR was a strong partner for Noodles when they were PR AOR," said Moore. "We were just looking to go in a different direction. We still have a really great relationship with ICR."

An ICR spokesperson said that the firm "has enjoyed a great relationship with Noodles over a very long period of time and we look forward to continuing to help their team as communications issues arise"

Noodles & Company has more than 400 U.S. locations. The chain’s revenue increased by 4.1% to $117.4 million in Q2 with comparable restaurant sales up 5.4%. The company said it would close 55 restaurants last year.

This story was updated on August 9 with quotes from ICR.

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