Wagamama turns to ex-101 team at MullenLowe in brand's biggest ATL push yet

Wagamama, the Asian-inspired restaurant chain, is launching its biggest push to date in above-the-line marketing with a refresh of its "Bowl to soul" brand proposition.

It is the first major marketing push since Emma Woods joined Wagamama as customer director a year ago from Merlin Entertainments, having replaced Simon Cope, who joined posh burger chain Byron.

Woods, a former Pizza Express marketer and Unilever veteran, decided to move the brand’s ad account into MullenLowe London last year and reunited Wagamama with the creative team that had previously worked at 101.

Last year MullenLowe London bought 101, which had previously created ads for Wagamama until it consolidated the business into an integrated account and moved it into J Walter Thompson following a pitch.

Woods said she was drawn to the work that 101 had created for Wagamama, particularly the "Bowl to Soul" brand proposition, and hired MullenLowe after meeting ex-101 duo executive partner Phil Rumbol and executive creative director Mark Elwood. 

A 40-second spot, which launches in cinemas on 8 June and will then appear on TV internationally, uses a mix of animation and live action to show off the restaurant’s use of fresh ingredients and Asian inspiration.

Actors used in the film are noticeably younger adults, revealing the brand’s target millennial audience that it believes is looking for higher quality convenience food as opposed to the more established fast-food chains on the high street.

Wagamama prides itself as a brand that doesn’t opt for short-term tactics such as discounting and its marketing team believes a more sustained attempt at building brand loyalty is a surer path to growth as the high street faces tougher economic conditions in the medium term.

The brand has just announced 208 consecutive weeks spent outperforming the casual dining market, which Wagamama puts down to its mission to continually keeping the brand fresh and relevant.

Woods said: "I firmly believe we are succeeding because we have a core thought that informs everything we do.

"We really stand for something. This film communicates it beautifully and can become a platform for continued growth globally."

The work was created by Nicolas Gomez Cal and Sean Bone at MullenLowe London and directed by Basak Erol through Blink. The7stars handles Wagamama’s media.

Elwood added: "True nourishment is a promise from Wagamama. Serving fresh food that makes you feel good. It’s a message with importance as it sets Wagamama apart from the rest of the competition."

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