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Challenge

Noodles & Company – a fast-casual chain that serves noodle dishes inspired by global flavors - tasked its agency of record Linhart PR with generating national, local and trade news coverage to drive awareness of its new zucchini noodles. Zoodles were introduced as a healthy meal option to bring back lapsed guests, attract new customers and increase frequency among current fans who were craving lower-carb choices. Linhart PR also needed to help Noodles overcome its struggles with media and brand recognition due to its limited footprint – there are no restaurants in major media markets such as Los Angeles and New York City.

Solution

Noodles and Linhart PR leveraged August’s National Zucchini Day as an “ownable” holiday and created a promotion where guests could substitute Zoodles for classic noodles for free and without the usual upcharge. By launching a media relations campaign around the vegetable-inspired “holiday” and Noodles promo, Linhart PR secured coverage in national, trade and local outlets, helping drive awareness and trial. The biggest win: a Guinness World Record attempt on the TODAY Show for the most zucchinis spiralized by bicycle (which Noodles engineered and dubbed the “Zoodler”).

Results

Here’s how Linhart PR achieved media relations success:
1. Conducted Research: The team leveraged insights about Noodles’ key consumers to craft relevant messages emphasizing the nutritional benefits of zucchini. In addition, news coverage research helped identify the most fitting reporters at national, trade and local media outlets in key Noodles markets. For national broadcast, Linhart PR focused all efforts on the TODAY Show, the No. 1 national morning show. The team diligently culled through previous episodes to determine: 1) the best existing segment opportunity – “Wednesday Whaaat?!,” a weekly Kathie Lee & Hoda segment focused on wacky/funny news that would fall on Zucchini Day, 2) common themes for fun, branded content – TODAY covers Guinness World Record attempts on-air, 3) the pitch should be more quirky than food-focused, and 4) a spokesperson would be needed to help guide the segment.
2. Leveraged Roundups: To circumvent the challenge of securing national features for a brand with a limited restaurant footprint, Linhart PR targeted national, consumer-facing food and lifestyle outlets that run monthly restaurant deals and special offer roundups. Noodles’ “holiday” news fit naturally into existing deals/discount columns and reporters were eager to add the unique Zoodles promo into a list of similar promotions running from other top brands for national holidays in August.
3. Offered Food Deliveries: To drive local market news in five focus markets, Linhart PR offered Zoodles deliveries, giving TV news stations, especially, the visual element typically required for on-air mentions. Plus, with a food delivery, reporters could taste Zoodles for themselves – they are delicious! – which helped tell the healthier menu item story and create positive media relationships with the brand.
4. Landed TODAY: Linhart PR pitched a fun, visually-rich segment using the Noodles Zoodlers for a Guinness record attempt to spiralize the most zucchinis in one minute by bicycle. Noodles partnered with Guinness on the attempt, allowing Linhart PR to deliver a packaged idea that included a Guinness spokesperson to guide the record attempt and that fit into the Wednesday Whaaat?! series. Producers loved it!

News results for Zucchini Day included 561 stories reaching more than 322 million consumers. Specifically, Linhart PR secured:

  • A TODAY Show Zoodles segment, which ultimately drove 263 news stories and social posts and more than 128 million impressions
  • 4 national online stories with Newsweek, Thrillist, Spoon University and USA Today, reaching 61.5 million readers
  • 16 local market stories across all 5 target markets, reaching more than 12 million consumers, plus an additional 40 local stories outside of the target markets, for more than 30 million impressions
  • 5 trade publication placements, for a total of 809k media impressions
  • Press release pick-up on 233 news sites nationwide, for more than 89 million media impressions

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