Sources said Grey, which would not confirm the reports, turned up in its surprise role shortly after Goodby, Berlin & Silverstein/S.F. finished out its 60-day notice after splitting with Carl's in September.
Grey wasted little time jumping ahead of the pack of hopefuls. It's believed the shop has already turned out television spots featuring a history of Carl's chicken sandwiches and a new tagline: 'The food is the star.'
Officials at Grey declined comment on the agency's status on the account, referring inquiries to Anaheim, Calif.-based Carl Karcher Enterprises, parent company of the fast-food chain. Karen Eadon, vp/marketing for Carl's, confirmed that an interim agency is handling the account, but declined to name the shop.
'We've got someone helping us . . . on project work,' said Eadon, who added that the decision to hire an interim agency stemmed from urgency and will not affect the review. 'Another agency had recommended them to me when we were running into a crunch' without an agency of record.
Carl's, which has hired Effective Marketing Strategies to help with the review, expects to announce an initial list of nine agencies 'in the next couple of weeks,' according to Eadon, who said shops with past experience in the food and retail segments will be considered. 'Some retail, not necessarily in fast food,' she said. 'We want really hard-hitting retail advertising, and we'll consider some broad types of food experience - it doesn't have to be restaurant-specific.'
A cut to four agencies will be made toward the end of this month on the basis of strategy concepts, Eadon said, adding that creative capabilities will take on prominence in the final round. 'I'm not really interested in seeing creative at this point, nor am I interested in having them talk about how they were successful with other clients.'
The fast-food firm's sales and profits have fallen. For the six-month period concluded Aug. 9, sales totaled $248.1 million, down about 15%, while profits dipped nearly 25% to $3.1 million.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)