Boston Market ups the pressure… (a.k.a. What now, Panera Bread?)


Insanity.

http://twitter.com/#!/W_a_L_D/status/136910586947715072

That’s right.  Boston Market not only reached out via my contact form thanks to Facebook, but also had the cojones to do this…

Boston Market RT!

Boston Market RT!

I still haven’t received a reply to my email to Mr. Wakabayashi, but what now Panera Bread? What now?  Clearly, this will pan out to be a bigger rivalry than Neil Young vs. Skynrd, or East Coast Rap vs. West Coast Rap.  Maybe even bigger than me vs. the people that think I’m McDonald’s (At Least Mr. Wakabayashi used my contact form correctly!)

http://twitter.com/#!/W_a_L_D/status/137169033266077696

http://twitter.com/#!/bostonmarket/status/137212008138424321

If you have no idea what’s going on, or if you work for Panera Bread.  You can catch up here…

In other news, did you know that they both cater?  I wish someone would have told me.

Panera Bread (Scott Twp. Greentree Road) on UrbanspoonI actually stopped at the local Panera the other night because the wife was sick and wanted some of that cheese-broccoli soup.  I went in to get some to go, and got myself a half of a turkey sandwich and a cup of the chicken noodle.

The employee (a young girl, of course) at the counter was quite friendly, asked if I wanted lettuce tomato or onion on the sandwich, and even asked if I wanted mustard and/or mayo.  Clearly, someone went over new procedures.  Sadly, I asked for lettuce & tomato… and got neither, but I did get mustard and mayo.  I applaud the effort, and shame on me for not checking before I left the store.

I have to say, after my initial complaint, they have totally stepped it up service-wise.  I still call shenanigans on the new soup.  They ought to let sales do the talking… OFFER BOTH.  It’s certainly a popular item.  Let the consumers decide if they want a great-tasting soup… or the crappy flat-noodled healthy soup.  Clearly, as a leader in the Fast Casual industry, you can afford to test the proverbial waters?  I think more changes have been made, but it’s still not the old soup.  Shenanigans.

Also, I counted 3 signs within  a span of about 8 feet on the counter where you wait for your order advertising the catering… and the pop machine still does it too.  I think the receipt may have even said something about it.

I spend far too much time contemplating fast food & fast casual dining.  If only I could save time buy purchasing already prepared meals.  Does anyone out there do that?

New Catering Advertisement Opportunities! (for Boston Market & Panera Bread)


I’m just sayin’.

Panera Bread  - vs. -  Boston Market

Panera Bread - vs. - Boston Market

From: Waldo Lunar <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, Nov 4, 2011
Subject: New Catering Advertisement Opportunities!
To: & Cc:  A bunch of Panera & Boston Market Employees

Hello friends at Boston Market & Panera Bread,

I assume that the lack of response to my last email about an all-out catering battle at my house was ill-received.  I didn’t get any interest from either camp, or even any kind of acknowledgement of my email.  Not even a coupon.  Isn’t that the typical response?  “Throw ’em a coupon!”  Color me disappointed.

No reply is rather rude, don’t you think?  Batman movie night has come & gone.  We dutifully provided a favorable dining experience to our guests thanks to an incredible local pizza shop.  Roasted red peppers as a pizza topping?  A hit all around, I tell you!  Subs with a homemade feel cut in to bite-size appetizers were also quite delicious.

I’m not sure why neither Panera Bread or Boston Market was willing to enter my catering battle royale.  It would have been an exciting opportunity for both of you.  I realize now… that you need help with forward thinking.  You missed this opportunity to advertise your catering and fight for my dollar.

I believe that I may have come around to your way of thinking.  Perhaps I need to fight for your dollar.  I previously saw advertisements on the pop machine and all over the windows as borderline obscene… but why stop at the border, friends?  Let’s trample the border, deface it on our way through, and not look back!  I have some ideas that you may find attractive.  I really look forward to your feedback.  (Don’t give me any shenanigans about unsolicited ideas and what-not, we’re all friends here.)

  • Advertising on the napkins.  You already do it on the receipts, walls, & windows.  Subway uses their napkins for nutrition information.  Show them up, advertise!  Think of all that clean wasted ad space ripe for the slinging of your delicious wares.  Were one ambitious, this could extend to the “to go” sandwich wrappings, the fancy new plates that you’re both using, and even the trays.  Hell, why not the drink cups?
  • Guerrilla advertising. You could have employees go into your parking lot at regular intervals, and put flyers under the windshield wipers of cars.  If you really wanna get crazy, try bumper stickers!  People would love decorations on their autos.
  • Me.  Send me a T-shirt that advertises your catering services.  I play in a band.  I’ll wear it to shows.  The throngs of bar patrons who rock out with me on a regular basis will be sure to flock to the nearest Panera Bread or Boston Market location.  I might be able to convince my band-mates to do the same.  If we’d like to get really crazy, may I offer to sell my forehead as a billboard?
  • Paystubs.  Your employees get paid right?  Get that money back!  Advertise your catering services on their pay-stubs, and any communications that you need to send.  There’s room on that W2 envelope for a 10% off catering coupon.
  • Right on the food itself.  This is the one that excites me the most!  You’ve seen the toasters that produce an image of Darth Vader, and the irons that brand your initials on to a steak, right?  There are also printers that print right on things like rice paper & cakes.  Why not take advantage of this technology?  Think about it.  Full color printing on wraps?  Toasty images on buns, bread, & bagels?  Delicious meat branded with confidence, demanding that you pick up a catering menu.  It’s never been done.  It’s opulent.  It’s genius.  (If I do say so myself.)

So, what do you think?  Can I help in this new advertising adventure?  These are the next steps in the evolution of promulgation.  Let’s move onward and upward, into uncharted catering promotional territory.  It will be an onslaught to the senses, and an influx in revenue for all involved.  I’m excited for this venture, and especially excited to get some feedback from everyone involved.

Excelsoir!
-Waldo Lunar
[ -YOUR AD COULD BE HERE- ]

incessant emails / incessant advertising

incessant emails / incessant advertising

Further Reading:

So, do you guys cater?


I recently had some correspondence with Panera Bread (The Great Panera Bread Swindle & Panera responds to my insanity, so I write back…), and I still have no reply to my last email.  I assume they think I’m an idiot and will not continue any further correspondence.  The experience reminded me of being bombarded with catering advertisements when I’m already at a restaurant.  I called out a few other places, but Boston Market does the same thing with the catering barrage.  I have a long history with them & letters, pre-dating my WordPress blogging days even.

At any rate, it struck me that they both seem to be fighting (or at least nagging) for catering business.  If we’re already in the store, and signed up for your mailing lists… we probably know that you will cater if needed.  How about focusing the catering advertising on local businesses around each location?

Or, I have a more interesting solution…

From: Waldo Lunar <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Aug 10, 2011
Subject: So, do you guys cater?
To: RCordova1@bost.com, isabella.contactus@panerabread.com

Ciao Colossal Catering Czars!

I can’t help but feel overwhelmed lately when I visit any of your fine establishments.  I just go there to get a meal, but you have mercilessly force-fed your catering services to me and throngs of other customers in the form of signage on the wall, window-clings, pamphlets, menus, table signage, place-mats, tweets, & emails.  I get it.  I feel like I’m in a giant commercial every time I walk into one of your previously welcoming establishments.  (Bob Evans is highly annoying with the take-out mantra too, but they’re not quite as relentless in their efforts.)  I applaud your tenacity, Panera Bread and Boston Market.  Despite your valiant and exasperating efforts, I have not yet used either of you to fill my catering needs.  In fact, I don’t have any catering needs.  I’m able to make a sandwich spread, some soup, a salad, & even prepare a holiday meal… all for less money than what you can offer, and it has the added bonus of being homemade.

Your incessant plugging of your catering service smacks of so much desperation, that it struck me with an idea.  You’re both figuratively fighting for my dollar, why not an actual fight for my dollar?  I’m not suggesting fisticuffs, although your frequency of mentioning catering services suggest that you may indeed jump right in.  I’m suggesting you each prepare a meal for a party, and I will only pay the not-quite-fast-food chain that makes the best meal.  Fight for my dollar!  Sorry, I can’t really contain my excitement at the prospect of such a tournament.  I bet we could get a reality TV show in on this.  If not, I could certainly get someone with a digital camera, and we could post the contest & the results on YouTube.  I’m sure it would go viral.  Can you imagine the bragging rights?

The judges would be those in attendance to my party.  You can certainly do your own background checks and interviews to ensure no partiality or preconceived bias.  I can even leave myself out of the proceedings, as I find you both equally annoying with the catering propaganda.  I could write up a review/summary at the end of the experience.  The only thing you would have to lose is the cost of catering a small party… but the potential to gain respect and more advertising for your catering services.  I’m enabling you, my friends.  I can feel the hunger dwelling deep within you.

I can assure you of my impartiality, as I have hosted several Chili Cook-off events at my home, and have photos to prove it.  I can provide you with copies of our ballots to show our proficiency in scoring food vs. food on several points.  We would of course have to devise a system to compare the proverbial Boston Market apples to Panera Bread oranges, but you can trust my ingenuity on the matter, and can employ a crack team of analysts.

This would be epic, my friends.  Imagine being  a pioneer in this type of event!  What would be next?  Qdoba vs. the Honey Baked Ham Co.?  The KFC bucket vs. your local grocery store’s prepared foods?  If you don’t like my idea, I may sign you up for my mailing list under the guise of getting coupons for my awesome letter-writing and ingenious idea services… only to solicit and re-solicit this very idea ad nasueam.  Using your own logic, you will have no choice but to comply!

Or, you could just have your CEO’s arrange a fist-fight in some parking lot, and I’ll literally give the winner a dollar.

Thank you for your time, I really hope that you give my idea serious consideration.  I will be ready when you say yes to the event.  We can work out the event and the details quite easily.  I actually have a “Batman movie night” coming up, and it would be great to cater that.  (Although, my wife may be making some Batman logo cookies… but we’ll make sure no one can vote for her catering services, she would most likely win hands-down with Batman cookies at a Batman movie party.)

May the best chain win!
-ERiC AiXeLsyD
Vaunted food contest professional.

Panera wrote back first…

Date: Wed, Aug 10, 2011
Subject: RE: Contact Us [Something not on this list] — MESSAGEID(288118)
To: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Dear Waldo,

Thank you for taking the time to contact Panera Bread. We are sorry to hear about your disappointment with our catering advertising. The current promotion is simply one way to let our catering customers know that the option is available. We always strive to provide a wonderful meal, great service and a welcoming environment for our all our customers and hope that you will continue to enjoy Panera Bread. I will let our Marketing decision makers know how you feel, so that your opinion will be considered.

Thanks again for contacting us. We appreciate your business and value your comments.

Sincerely,
Isabella
Customer Comment Coordinator

Oh yeah, Waldo?  With Google+ getting all crazy & stuff, I didn’t want to merge my “regular” Gmail address with the fake one, so I change the W(aL)D email name to Waldo Lunar.  So, my email comes as Waldo Lunar, but I still signed it “Eric AiXeLsyD”.

From: Waldo Lunar <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Aug 11, 2011
Subject: Re: Contact Us [Something not on this list] — MESSAGEID(288118)
To: Isabella <isabella.contactus@panerabread.com>

Thanks Isabella,

I’m glad that you understand my frustration at being pummeled with advertising, and that you’re willing to pass the sentiment along to the appropriate parties.  I applaud you for your efforts, and the swiftness with which you replied!  I’m on the fence with Panera bread due to this whole “holding the dressing” thing, and the “healthy” chicken noodle soup debacle.  I mean, those homemade-looking noodles were awesome.  The little square things lying sparsely in the greasy broth are sad little stabs into my heart.  Perhaps I must move on to the broccoli soup.

Has anyone else written to you in regards to the barrage of advertising?  More importantly — Is Panera interested in the catering “battle royale” that I proposed?  If we can get Boston Market on board, I think this will be a stellar time.  You were much more expeditious with your reply.  I trust that you believe in your brand/product enough to put it to the test?  I can try to get some TV people on board once I get confirmation from the principal parties.  I’m sure you can see from my first email that I’ve already put much thought into the logistics.  The prospect of it all has me quite excited.

Thank you once again for your time and diligent response.  Have a great day, and I hope to hear from you again soon!

Hungry,
-ERiC AiXeLsyD
Vaunted food contest professional.

I sort of got a response from Boston Market…

From: <sbrooks1@bost.com>
Date: Thu, Aug 11, 2011
Subject: Boston Market suggestion response
To: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Good Afternoon

Thank you for submitting your suggestion to our catering department. We certainly appreciate the time you took to write and do value all customer feedback. Upon receipt of this information, I will create a report and forward your comments to the Market Leader for your region and our Marketing Department for consideration.

Again thank you for your feedback

Syrenia Brooks
Guest Contact Center Specialist

Huh?  I smell a standard “please don’t bother us” email here.  I still think my idea has merit, and I want a catering throw-down.  Think I can push it any further?  I’ll certainly try.

Your tax dollars at work


…or lack thereof.  Yesterday, we got this in the mail:

2010 Census Warning Letter

Really?  I mean, really? I can’t imagine one person out there who thinks this is at all necessary.  Your government actually spent time writing a letter, translating one line into several languages, printing, assembling, and mailing this thing out to every residence?

The one line at the end must be the important line, because it’s the only one they translated… yet, it wasn’t important enough to be in the actual body of the letter.  Are we to ignore the thole main part of the letter?  How did they pick the languages in which to translate the line?  What are they?  Please excuse my public education.  I recognize the English of course, Spanish, what I think is Chinese, then most likely Japanese or Korean, under that… I have no idea, then the Cryillic letters… is that Russian?  Why no French, Italian, German, or at this point Navajo?  Did they just throw darts at a map?

What if I’m politically opposed to the social programs that you need this census data for?  Is this my warning to fill the census out incorrectly?  Doesn’t the government already know everything about me when I do my taxes?  What exactly is my fair share, and who determines that?  I’m sure it’s nothing even close to “if I pay more taxes I get more out of government assistance”… which would seem fair to me.

On the other end of the political scale, even if this paper is made from recycled material, the plastic window in the envelope couldn’t have been environmentally friendly… and this is still a giant waste of paper, ink, envelope glue, and the gas that went into the trucks/planes/cars that delivered these things.  I really hope the tree-hugging hippies pick up on this and rail against it.  If the government expects us to be more responsible with our resources, they ought to lead by example.  Even a fictional villain from the Captain Planet cartoon would find this wasteful.

Oddly, it didn’t even mention the not-so-humorous “Snapshot of America” campaign that’s been shoved down our throats via TV, radio, print, and the ‘net.  I could almost see if it was some expansion of that, or more of an explanation.  This basically translates to “please fill out the census when you get it”… and if you need help, we have a website you can go to.  They couldn’t have done that in the useless ad campaign?

Who paid for this?  We did.  You, me, and everyone else that pays taxes.  Wouldn’t the money used for this mailing have been better used in the schools, health care facilities, highways, and programs that the census letter speaks of?  Or, it could have gone to disaster relief, homeless shelters, cancer research, or better yet, you could have all gotten a few more tax dollars back in your refund.  Before you laugh…  It wouldn’t just be the cost of the paper, ink, envelope, & stamp.  Think of all the people who where paid to write, print, fold, stuff, stamp, & transport these things and how many hours they spent doing it… and imagine what they get paid an hour.  Even with automated machines to do most of the work, someone had to monitor the progress and set the ball rolling.

Was this a ploy to keep the post office running for another few months before it shuts down?  The one sentence that stands out to me is “Without a complete, accurate census, your community may not receive its fair share.”  This reads like a threat in a stereotypical “pay for protection” plot line on your favorite crime drama or Simpsons episode.  I imagine someone sounding like Joe Pesci saying “I would ‘ate for sometin’ bad to ‘appen to your community were you to ignore this important mailing coming your way.”

Yes, I just wasted more of your time.  Sorry about that.  Maybe I need a government job…