Mellow Mushroom Dragged Kicking and Screaming into the 21st Century

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Venerated pizzeria launches comprehensive Web site that reflects restaurant's unique style and integrates social media innovations.

We decided to launch the new Web site to offer our thousands of fans a simple way to get information about their local store and interact with other Mellow customers in their cities

Mellow Mushroom, a popular pizzeria with more than 100 locations across the United States, has launched a new Web site, mellowmushroom.com.

Known as a "collection" rather than franchise, every Mellow Mushroom location has its own flair and local flavor. This became a driving philosophy for the concept behind the new Web site.

A collaboration between Mellow Mushroom's branding agency, Coral Gables, Fla.-based Markham Unlimited and Charlotte, N.C.-based MODE, a branding and interactive agency, the new Web site is built around a "Finding your local Mellow" theme, with different mini-sites specifically targeting fans of each of the 100+ locations. In keeping with this local focus, the site incorporates popular social networking elements such as Facebook status updates, picture albums and location-specific YouTube videos to allow each store to maintain a close daily conversation with its local base of guests.

"Being at the Mellow Mushroom is more than great food - it's an immersive experience, and we wanted their online presence to feel true to that," said Markham Cronin, president of Markham Unlimited. "We strove to capture the unique personality that makes up the rich tapestry of each Mellow Mushroom."

"We were inspired to find out that for the last 35 years custom, hand-crafted art has been a integral part of the Mellow Mushroom experience," said MODE creative director John Pietrafesa. "While the brand has evolved and grown we wanted to maintain that rich history and be sure to 'craft' every aspect of the visitor's experience."

In order to keep with the tradition of hand drawn artwork, the new site features a custom hand drawn typeface and over 100 animated illustrations.

"Mellow Mushroom has a passionate online fan base that discusses the pizzeria through a variety of social networking sites," said MODE interactive director Tyler Hawes. "We wanted to build on this online activity, creating a site where fans can interact with other customers and get all pertinent information about their local Mellow Mushroom."

After entering their zip code on the homepage, fans are directed to their local store's page, which is integrated directly with social networking sites including Facebook and Twitter. Fans will find status updates, event announcements and photo galleries. Through Facebook Connect, the site allows Mellow fanatics to sign up for an account, giving them access to promotions and the Mellow E-Newsletter, and offers the ability to "tag the wall" of their local store. Additionally, each page captures the authenticity of the particular location through images of employees, owners and patrons in the local environment. A stripped down mobile version for iPhone users, offering basics such as local store and menu information, is also available.

"We decided to launch the new Web site to offer our thousands of fans a simple way to get information about their local store and interact with other Mellow customers in their cities," said Mellow Mushroom marketing director Michael Shemtov. "Markham Unlimited and MODE have helped us create a site that is truly cutting edge, incorporating all of the social networking outlets that people now use to communicate with others and get their news."

The new Web site is one of many marketing initiatives that Mellow Mushroom is launching in 2009. The company recently introduced a billboard campaign branded, "Optimism, as expressed in pizza." By Markham Unlimited, of Coral Gables, Fla.

About Mellow Mushroom
Founded by 3 Georgia college students, the first Mellow Mushroom, a funky hole-in-the-wall pizza joint, opened its doors in 1974 and quickly attracted crowds that spilled out onto the sidewalks. Recognizing that they had something special, the founders opened a second location within a year and began franchising 10 years later. These days, the Mellow Mushroom collection features more than 100 locations sprinkled throughout Southeastern college towns and beyond. Touted as "bohemian-chic," each location has its own unique flair while maintaining the fun, energetic and trendy atmosphere that distinguishes Mellow Mushroom from the typical pizza joint. By standing firmly behind their goal of serving the finest product possible in terms of health and taste, the Mellow Mushroom name has become synonymous with quality. Visit http://www.mellowmushroom.com for merchandise, menus and locations.

About MODE.
MODE is a group of designers, developers and strategists who are passionate about creating and supporting strong, powerful brands. Whether collaborating with a cultural icon or crafting the identity of a new business, we combine and expertise in visual communications with an intelligent use of technology to create conversations between our clients and their audience. We rely on a process that addresses business needs and thrives on exchange, conversation and exploration. For more information, visit http://www.madebymode.com.

About Markham Unlimited
Markham Unlimited is a creative branding firm based in Coral Gables, Fla. Markham Unlimited was founded four years ago by acclaimed veteran creative director Markham Cronin, alumni of agencies such as Crispin Porter and Bogusky and Carmichael Lynch. A small group of dedicated branding experts, Markham Unlimited works with a select group of clients across the country to creatively build and execute their brands in everything they do. For more information, visit http://www.markhamunlimited.com.

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