Sunday, October 9, 2011

Are You A Copycat?

So I saw this commercial today...

And, if you're a child of the 70s like me, you'll think it's a lot like this golden oldie...

Hmm.  Awfully similar.  I'm going to assume positive intent and say that the older Dunkin Donuts commercial was some sort of indirect inspiration for the Panera commercial.  After all, neither of us were sitting in the room during the Panera creative meeting to suggest anything untoward.  

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery...

but I don't always like it for brands.  As I shared with you in this post, Esurance's commercials make me think of Progressive Insurance which may or may not have been a desired outcome.  I found that to be a bad move for Esurance, as you recall, though some may say that insurance is so commoditized that it's to Esurance's benefit to confuse.  

I get what Panera's trying to do -- they're suggesting that other bakery cafe formats do not make their bread fresh and on-site everyday.  They also suggest that Panera has the customer in mind by committing to a quality product.  It's this customer focused passion for quality that sets them apart from the rest.  And, Panera wants you to think of one thing regardless of what you purchase: quality.

Yeah, so what Panera is doing in store truly does work for them.  It's a good experience, the food is good and the bread is fresh (I've tried it).  Not only have they done better than their competitors, particularly in a down economy, but it's also a stock market favorite.  So, really, there's nothing for me to criticize per se.

But I still think of Dunkin Donuts, specifically Munchkins...

and I think Panera deserves better than that just as Esurance deserves better.  I've got to believe that their marketing and creative teams can do better at communicating "fresh" and "quality" beyond what appears to be a 21st century version of a Dunkin Donuts commercial.  Panera shouldn't ever have any marketing collateral or campaign that conjures anything else but Panera.

It's hard to be original.  But if you respect your brand, you recognize it's the right thing to do.  What's your take?  Share below and, if you've liked this post, share with a friend, please!

Parissa Behnia
Idea Chef


  1. Great point Parissa and yet what I think has been Panera's success during a down time is that they have been able to gain market share from Starbucks here locally because... (which I imagine has served nationally as well)

    When Starbucks charged for wifi with AT&T, Panera gave it for free.

    Panera offers free refills on their coffee. (Saving you a huge amount of money over Starbucks)

    They make fresh breads and sweets in their store daily- hmm Starbucks outsources. Now Starbucks was smart they stuck to what they were good at coffee. Yet, Panera found where their holes in what they offered and served them up well.

  2. Hi Michele! Thanks for stopping by and thanks for sharing the post! I agree that Panera does a bang up excellent job of what they do. I've been a fan of their product and in store experience for a while. And that's makes me more depressed... Excellent work deserves excellent and original creative that makes me think of Panera and Panera only.