BBDO’s Bonds With Yum! Tested

While it has sometimes had to share 15-year client Pizza Hut with other agencies, BBDO has enjoyed a solid relationship with the chain’s parent, Yum! Brands. The shop added Yum!’s $220 million KFC duties in 2000 and $25 million Long John Silver’s account in 2002.

Last week, however, the Omnicom agency found itself fighting for what could be all of KFC in a shootout with another Yum! roster shop, Interpublic Group’s Foote, Cone & Belding.

In 1993, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco was added to Pizza Hut for four years. For a few months last year, BBDO shared the account with Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore. But FCB “could win the whole KFC business,” said one source, “not just a project or secondary status.”

FCB has handled the $200 million Taco Bell account since 2001, and its “Think outside the bun” campaign helped to drive sales up 5.7 percent last year to $5.2 billion, according to consultancy Technomic in Chicago. KFC’s sales were up 3.4 percent to $5 billion last year.

A KFC representative said the review was not spurred by the 2-year-old “There’s fast food. Then there’s KFC” work with Jason Alexander—only recently considered a disappointment—but is part of overall “efforts to reinvigorate sales.” The rep declined further comment, as did the two shops. A Taco Bell rep was unavailable.

KFC limited the review to the two shops because it knows “they both can do it,” said a source, and it needs to boost sales quickly. The Louisville, Ky., client will hear presentations in September, sources said.

A key player for FCB is Chicago ecd Tom O’Keefe, the architect of “Think outside the bun,” who will lead the creative pitch, sources said. He moved over from the Irvine, Calif., office in September.