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Auntie Anne’s Pretzels Case Study

National Pretzel Day Increases Sales

The Issue

In 1983, Congress designated April 26 as National Pretzel Day. For nearly 20 years, the day may have been celebrated locally, but in 2001 Auntie Anne’s Inc. decided to make the day a national celebration. The international franchise system with its (then) over 700 locations of Auntie Anne’s Hand-Rolled Soft Pretzel locations took the pretzel day salute to a national stage by initiating the company’s most aggressive public relations campaign to date.

The Strategy

Creating a national, yet localized media effort, required pre-planning and communication before, during and after the event with the franchise system. In addition to identifying national media opportunities, there was a need to create a communications guide, speaking points, sample press releases and media alerts. Additionally, a system was created to ensure communications between the store level and the corporate office. Specific efforts included:

  • Specially created collateral materials for members of media to use on air
  • Targeted over 800 local television affiliates, over 200 local radio stations, the nation’s top 200 newspapers, as well as industry trade publications
  • Teamed up with Children’s Miracle Network and created a special Pretzel Day visit to Hershey Medical Center’s Children’s Hospital
  • Orchestrated local-level “pretzel drops” to media outlets across the country
  • Initiated a satellite radio tour with ‘Auntie’ Anne Beiler as the spokesperson

The Results

National Pretzel Day became an instant success on multiple levels. The day resulted in the largest collection of news media coverage in a single day in the history of the company. At the local level, it was the first time the franchise system executed a system wide, one-day event to salute the pretzel and raise funds for Children’s Miracle Network. The positive internal response became a rallying cry the system from Auntie Anne herself, to senior staff, the franchisees and to the employees at each franchise location.