Praytell named AOR for Cinnabon and other Focus Brands

Focus Brands selected Praytell following a competitive pitch.

ATLANTA: Focus Brands has selected Praytell as PR AOR for Cinnabon, McAlister's Deli, Carvel, Moe's Southwest Grill, and Schlotzsky’s.

Following a competitive pitch process that started in August, Praytell was chosen in mid-September and work with McAlister's Deli, Carvel, Moe's Southwest Grill, and Schlotzsky’s began October 1. Work on Cinnabon starts in November, said Praytell CEO Andy Pray.

Praytell is providing services from strategic planning, ongoing media relations, CSR purpose work, influencer campaigns, and measurement. Digital and social media is being provided to the brands by Austin, Texas-based ad agency T3.

Praytell is working on Q4 planning and gearing up for a "big" 2019 for all five brands, said Pray. With this win, he explained, it’s as if the agency won five separate companies – each with distinct teams and visions.

"The thing that ties [the five brands] together is they are looking for disruptive ideas that break through and are focused on consumer relevance," added Pray. "They want consumer-relevant moments the brands can hijack and to insert the brands in conversations that increase awareness and, ultimately, sales. They are in a very competitive space."

Praytell account strategy director Stefan Embry leads a team of 15 staffers on the account. Budget information was not disclosed.

In 2016, Finn Partners was named PR AOR for Carvel and another Focus brand, Auntie Anne’s, almost one year after Cinnabon brought on the firm to expand its brand leadership efforts. Focus Brands no longer works with Finn Partners, a Focus representative said.

Until January 2015, Focus Brands was comprised of Moe's Southwest Grill, McAlister's Deli, Schlotzsky's, 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.

In June 2015, Focus Brands named Allison+Partners AOR for its restaurant group, comprised of Moe’s Southwest Grill, McAlister's Deli, and Schlotzsky's.

Allison+Partners served as AOR for Focus Brands restaurants Moe’s, McAlister’s, and Schlotzsky’s for the last three-and-a-half years, said Lisa Rosenberg, partner, chief creative officer, and co-chair of Allison+Partners’ consumer marketing practice.

Auntie Anne’s concluded working with Finn Partners in December 2016, and has worked with Allison+Partners since then, said a Focus representative.

"We’re proud of the work we did together from Moe’s Rebound Burrito and Chief Taco Officer campaigns to the introduction of Schlotzsky’s new Austin Eatery concept," Rosenberg said.

"While we wish these brands continued success, we are excited about our ongoing work with Auntie Anne’s, where innovative programming such as a fashion partnership with Threadless.com to celebrate National Pretzel Day continue to propel the brand forward."

Representatives from Finn Partners declined to comment.

Focus Brands recently restructured the way its staff handles social media for each brand, including Carvel, Cinnabon, Schlotzsky’s, and Moe’s Southwest Grill.

Social media managers now focus on one brand each, rather than managing multiple brands. As well as Auntie Anne’s, Focus Brands’ other chain is Seattle’s Best Coffee.

Recent people moves at Focus Brands include Moe’s Southwest Grill’s appointment of Verchele Wiggins Roberts as VP of marketing; and Carvel’s hire of Lauren Bernath as senior PR and social media manager, a newly created role.

Previously, Carvel separated the roles of PR manager and social media manager. Matthew Courtoy was senior social manager for Carvel and Schlotzsky’s and Loryn Franco was Carvel’s PR director. Franco has moved to Schlotzsky’s to lead PR.

In June, Moe’s named Courtoy as senior manager of social and digital strategy. Victoria Nielsen, who oversaw Moe’s and Cinnabon, transitioned to senior social and digital manager at Schlotzsky’s. Marissa Sharpless is overseeing social and PR for Cinnabon.

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