Case Study

How Panera hooked up coffee lovers on Twitter

Key results

increase in average brand mentions per day1

increase in positive sentiment3

positive sentiment2

The opportunity

With event cancellations and social distancing measures in place in most places, summer hit differently for people across the country. On Twitter, people looked to brands to lift spirits during lockdown. In fact, 70% of people surveyed on Twitter said it’s important for brands to help boost positivity and promote positive stories during this time.4

Panera Bread (@panerabread) decided that there was one way it could help perk everyone up a little: free coffee. 

Just in time for iced coffee season, @panerabread offered people free coffee or tea all summer long as a way to drive awareness of its new subscription service and stand out from its caffeinated competitors. And it turned to Twitter to get people talking about it.

The strategy

To unveil the new coffee subscription, @panerabread introduced the launch by asking people on Twitter to vote in a poll. The reward? Free coffee … all summer long. 

The #FREECOFFEE4SUMMER campaign was a perfect blend of exciting and experiential. By giving customers a taste of how the subscription works, the brand kept people energized — and talking about @panerabread — all summer long.

  • Case Study
  • North America
  • Casual Dining


Stir up excitement with a Tweet-provoking launch.

To kick things off, @panerabread used a Promoted Image Poll to get people to stop scrolling and answer the question.


Be clear in character and tone.

After seeing a few questions about just how many votes were needed to achieve the free coffee quest, @panerabread used the Retweet with comment function to share a few details (and a few laughs).


Express your appreciation.

Throughout the launch, @panerabread made sure to keep engaging with customers. After reading through replies, the brand created and Tweeted a creative coffee jingle to keep up the campaign’s playful and lighthearted tone.


Be sure to follow through.

Using a Promoted Tweet, @panerabread sent out instructions so voters could learn not only how to get their free coffee, but also find more information about the coffee subscription service in general.

The success

Turns out, people love free coffee. The poll generated 558K total votes across the campaign, and people gave #FREECOFFEE4SUMMER a whole latte love.

Overall, the campaign received positive sentiment and helped @panerabread engage customers while giving them more information about the brand’s coffee subscription. A much-needed pick-me-up, #FREECOFFEE4SUMMER made @panerabread the talk of the iced coffee season.

We are a brand that is built on strong 1:1 relationships with our customers. We specifically identified Twitter as our key social platform to launch the #FREECOFFEE4SUMMER campaign with the goal of generating excitement and awareness of the offering. But most importantly, we wanted to evaluate consumer interest in deploying the program at all. If we didn’t see such positive engagement, we likely wouldn’t have launched the program at all. Instead, we saw a tremendous response and have given away thousands of free cups of coffee!

Kelli Nicholson (@kellinicholson), Director of Brand Marketing, Panera Bread

1. Brandwatch, commissioned by Twitter, Panera Free Coffee Launch, June 16, 2020-July 4, 2020, US
2. Brandwatch, commissioned by Twitter, Panera Free Coffee Launch, June 16, 2020-June 18, 2020, US
3. Brandwatch, commissioned by Twitter, Panera Free Coffee Launch, June 1, 2020-June 18, 2020, US Terms: Panera and #FREECOFFEE4SUMMER
4. Twitter Insiders, US Only, March 25-30, 2020, n=826

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