Friendly Awards $20 Mil. Account

Friendly Ice Cream Corp., striving to define its niche in the casual-dining market, has handed its estimated $20 million ad account to GMO/Hill, Holliday without a review.

The San Francisco-based unit of Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos in Boston was chosen by the client based mainly on a past relationship between Friendly president and COO John Cutter and Goldberg Moser O’Neill, according to Friendly and the shop. GMO came under the banner of sister Interpublic Group agency Hill, Holliday earlier this year.

“We’re trying to understand where we fit in the marketplace and what our long-term positioning should be,” said Richard Couch, client svp and chief marketing officer.

Cutter had worked with GMO in the 1990s while at Boston Market restaurants, and “he liked the work we did for him then,” said a GMO/Hill, Holliday representative.

The Wilbraham, Mass., chain of about 600 restaurants recently worked with Terry Heffernan Films in San Francisco (creative) and Advantage Media in Lakewood, Colo. (media). “We needed one agency that could do it all,” Couch said.

GMO/Hill, Holliday’s first work for Friendly breaks the first quarter of 2001. Recent TV spots have focused on service and a new menu. Friendly has spent about $15-20 million on ads per year in recent years.NEWSMAKERS