Checkers Begins Agency

Checkers Drive-In Restaurants’ $10 million marketing account has been put into review.
Crispin Porter & Bogusky, the fast-food chain’s agency of record, has declined to participate in the review. The Miami agency has held the account for the past three years.
Select Resources International in Los Angeles will conduct the search for the Clearwater, Fla.-based client. A request for proposal went out last week.
“It’s a nice piece of business and we’re sorry to see them go,” said Jeff Steinhour, partner and director of account services at CP&B. “But the winds of change were in the air.”
Those winds began blowing harder last December with the arrival of Checkers chief executive officer Daniel Dorsch, the latest player in a series of management shuffles intended to drive the sagging fast-food restaurant back toward profitability.
Thus far, Dorsch’s slash-and-burn tactics–CP&B is clearly among the victims–have boosted sales, reduced corporate debt by 60 percent and inched stock that was selling as high as $18 per share three years ago back toward $5.
Sources said, however, the essential problem remains: pricing was the leverage that allowed smaller “challenger brands” like Krystals, Miami Subs and Sonic to compete against the McDonald’s and Burger Kings in the quick-service category.
“Checkers was one of first chains to offer value-priced meals,” said Steinhour. “Now, you can get two Whoppers for a buck. As everybody’s pricing came down, Checkers’ position was eroded.”
In an attempt to break out of the pack, the agency created a series of print, broadcast and outdoor advertising leveraging Checker’s speedy service and quality menu. The most recent work centered around Holly, a supercharged, animated bombshell who insists, “In Holly’s world, only performance counts.”
Sales, until recently, remained essentially flat. “We tried to build something overarching,” said Steinhour. “You’ve got to stand for something other than ‘I hope you’re hungry’ when you’re being outspent four-to-one by the big boys.”
Marketing executives at Checkers did not return calls by press time last week.
The company owns, operates and franchises approximately 950 “double drive-thru” restaurants across the U.S. under the Checkers and Rally’s names.