"Web's #1 Site For Women!" Tries to Trick Panera Bread, Gets Dumped

Break bread, not rules!
Break bread, not rules!
More corporate intrigue from the yeasty world of Panera Bread, a.k.a. Kirkwood-based St. Louis Bread Company.

The editors at SheKnows.com -- the "#1 Site for Women!" -- wanted Panera to know that their online advertising dollars were going to good use. Even if, in fact, they really weren't. So the site's editors decided to get creative.

"We have a big sponsorship from Panera," one wrote in memo to employees. "If you see it, click it! We want to keep them around."

Oh, no SheKnows didn't!

A couple of the memos were leaked to the media blog Romenesko. By encouraging writers to mindlessly click Panera ads, they were encouraging "click fraud." Which in some cases is pretty illegal.

Food editor Joanie Segall's instructions were delivered brightly and damningly, and it kind of feels like she didn't realize this is a big She-No:

Our click-through rates are not as great as our impressions (which is not your fault). But we can help everyone out a bit if we get in the habit of clicking on any ads you see alongside your articles, on the site, in your section, ANYWHERE. Our advertisers are the reason we all have paychecks each month so it's important that they're happy. Literally all you have to do is click on the ad - you don't have to stay on their site for a certain amount of time and don't have to buy a thing. Just click! Click 100 times if you want to!

As soon as the SheKnows upper management got wind of this, the two editors were suspended and a company-wide memo went out condemning their cheerful advice. Nevertheless, Panera pulled all of its ads saying it was "strongly opposed to practices of this kind."

Which is to say: Do not eff with Panera Bread. They host mob sit-downs for god's sake.

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