Everyone in business has had the customer from Hell. Often, the employees get stuck dealing with them, while the owners or managers see only the revenue. There are time when a customer is so demanding, so expensive, that the only choice is to cut them loose and let them haunt someone else. It turns out that Panera Bread is one of those customers. So much so their ad agency gave up the account saying “no amount of money is worth it.”
Panera Bread Co.’s lead ad agency, Cramer-Krasselt, has resigned its account after two years with Panera, saying it was “much too much even in this crazy business.”
An internal memo issued this morning by Chicago-based Cramer-Krasselt Chairman and CEO Peter Krivkovich and obtained by Advertising Age portrays a relationship between the agency and Panera that was fraught with tension.
The memo cites as reasons for ending the relationship the “constant last-minute shifts in direction, the behind-the-scenes politics, the enormous level of subjectivity that disregards proof of performance.”
Cramer-Krasselt said that “in the end, no amount of money makes it worthwhile.” However, the memo added that the agency still believes that Panera Bread is a “wonderful brand” that delivers on its food sourcing and quality promises.
“Many of us will continue to eat there. Because it’s that good,” the memo said. “But enough is enough.”
My goodness. I did not think it was possible to offend the sensibilities of ad men.
I’ve run into companies like this. They make it so hard to do business with them you eventually walk away from the account. I’ve never actually fired a customer, but I have systematically ignored them so they will go away on their own. Another trick is to raise rates so high they go looking for some other source. If they stay around you at least have the margin to make the account profitable. Sometimes, you just have to fire the customer, as there is no way to make it work.