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CiCi's Pizza Pitches $5 'Value Meal'

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CiCi’s Pizza is taking on value-based burger chains with a campaign that touts its $5 buffet as “the real value meal.”

Deutsch LA created the national TV campaign for the chain, which begins airing today (Wednesday). “Look, cowboy, what do I have to do to get this value meal into you?” a fast-talking “Hambargain” bag asks an intimidated individual, who mentions that the burger inside is cold. “Stone cold value!” shouts the bag, which is voiced by actor/comedian Kevin Pollak. There are three executions.

After potential patrons get sassed by the bag, the ads cut to a screen that reads, “Want a real value meal?” and then pans across CiCi’s all-you-can-eat buffet of salad, pasta, pizza and dessert “for five bucks and change.” The campaign also includes a radio component.

The creative sprung from that insight that you'd need a fast talking salesman to sell, say, the merits of a $5 burger or footlong over a 25-foot-long buffet.

"Nothing's ever differentiated, [but CiCi's] had something different," said Eric Hirshberg, president/chief creative officer at Deutsch LA. "We wanted to put a stake through the heart of a value meal with this concept."

Current spots will run through the end of this year and into the first quarter of next year. Cable buys include TBS, USA, Nick at Nite, Vh-1, TNT, Spike, TLC, ESPN, ABC Family, Oxygen, and others. The ads will air during shows like Family Guy, America’s Next Top Model, Burn Notice, House, as well as MLB, NBA, and Nascar events.

In March, CiCi’s and Deutsch made headlines with the recession-ready “Penny Picker Upper” stunt and complementary TV campaign. In it, the eateries dropped one million pieces of copper and zinc outside its 650 U.S. restaurants in 32 states; some were stickered with offers for free meals, drinks or BOGO pizzas.

CiCi's spent $24 million on advertising in 2008, excluding online, per Nielsen.