KB+P Rededicates Carrabba’s Personal Touch

NEW YORK Carrabba’s Italian Grill last week broke its first advertising from Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners here, a campaign that retires co-owners Johnny and Damian as pitchmen and replaces them with a staff that prides themselves on knowing their regulars’ idiosyncrasies.

In one of two TV ads that broke nationally on Thursday, two waiters argue over who gets to serve the Barretts. The argument becomes a game of one-upmanship on the topic of who knows the couple better. While one waiter knows that “Susan saves the mushrooms in her Chicken Marsala for last,” his challenger seals his expert status with the trivia, “Paul’s hair isn’t naturally curly.”

In the second ad, a woman orders her meal When Harry Met Sally style. But when the waitress submits the table’s order, the camera reveals she has not written any of the woman’s specifications. Nor, it seems, does she need to. “It’s the Ludwigs,” she says, implying that the chef will know the order by heart.

A voiceover concludes, “At Carrabba’s, we don’t just know Italian, we know people who love Italian, so everything is made to order and served just the way you like it.” The ads are capped with the tagline, “People are our specialty.”

“We wanted to present Carrabba’s as a fun, light, approachable place,” said creative director Steve Doppelt. “Even though it’s more upscale than, say, an Olive Garden, we wanted something that wasn’t stuffy.”

While Johnny and Damian had pitched for their restaurant for eight years, KB+P sought to replace the duo with a staff that had learned from their tutelage. “Johnny and Damain’s philosophy has been passed down to all the people that work there,” said Doppelt.

Radio ads are “dedicated” to particular customers such as R&B enthusiast “Jenny Reed,” which features a stylized bass monologue that starts, “Oooh girl, you know I love you. You know I didn’t mean to hurt you . . . ” The wayward suitor then goes on to offer dinner at Carrabba’s as reparation, describing how his woman will, “Open up as I put each succulent piece [of chicken] in her mouth, oh yeah.” As for the mashed potatoes, she’ll “savor each spoonful of creamy goodness.”