Five in Hunt for Carvel Account

Five agencies are contending for the creative and media business of Carvel, which is seeking to expand its supermarket and franchise-store presence nation wide, sources said.

Sources said those shops are TG Madison, Fricks/Firestone, Maxx com’s Fletcher Martin Ewing and Match, all in Atlanta; and Interpublic’s Suissa Miller in Los Angeles. A cut in the review is expected before Christmas, sources said, with a decision likely in January.

Incumbent Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners West in San Francisco, which picked up the business in the spring, is not defending, according to sources.

The client is running the review without a consultant, sources said.

Spending in 2001 is estimated at $2-3 million. That figure is likely to increase to $5 million, sources said.

Farmington, Conn.-based Carvel operates approximately 400 ice-cream/baked-goods outlets and sells its cakes in about 5,000 supermarkets, primarily on the East Coast and in California. In the 1980s, Carvel boasted about 850 franchise outlets.

Carvel competes in an increasingly crowded market that includes brands such as Ben & Jerry’s, which recently selected Cliff Freeman and Partners to handle its $5 million ad account, as well as Friendly Ice Cream and Dairy Queen.

Executives at the client, which is owned by Atlanta investment firm Roark Capital, could not be reached.

Sources said the client first met with agencies in early December to discuss expanding the brand. “It’s about capturing the loyalty that is so completely connected to that brand,” said one source. “The trick is to introduce it to other markets with that fervor … how to introduce it to another world from where it grew up.”

Recent TV spots from Kirshenbaum featured animated “spokes cakes” Fudgie the Whale and Cookie Puss, created decades ago by company founder Tom Carvel. The tag: “We’re creamy. We’re crunchy. We’re Carvel.”

All of the contending agencies have considerable food and franchise experience.

Fletcher Martin Ewing has worked with RTM Restaurant Group—which owns brands such as Arby’s, Mrs. Winner’s Chicken & Biscuits and Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken—since 1979, as well as Piccadilly Cafeterias.

Frick/Firestone worked with Papa John’s Atlanta until earlier this fall. Match has worked for Flowers Bakeries and Mrs. Ed wards Pies.

TG Madison’s roster has included Parmala/Atlanta Dairies. Suissa Miller worked on McDonald’s Bos ton Market brand for six years before losing the business to Boston shop Arnold.