Friendly Ice Cream Corp. has begun soliciting agencies nationwide to pitch the creative portion of its estimated $15-20 million advertising account.
The solicitation comes as Richard Couch joins the Wilbraham, Mass.-based client as chief marketing officer. The former restaurant marketing consultant from Phoenix replaces Scott Coldwell, who resigned to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities, said Friendly representative Vivian Brooks.
Neither Couch, who is overseeing the review for creative chores, nor Coldwell returned phone calls by press time.
Berry-Brown, the Dallas agency tapped by the publicly traded company this spring as lead creative shop, will participate, Brooks said.
Executives at Berry-Brown said they had not been informed of a review.
WF of R in Richmond, Va., handles media chores, which are not included in the review, Brooks said.
Friendly has targeted specific shops and considers the process closed, although there is no timeline for the completion of the review, Brooks said.
Asked why the company is reviewing so soon after hiring Berry-Brown, Brooks said: "Friendly is always looking for the brightest creative talent. We look at what's out there."
Friendly is seeking a shop with "heavyweight creative credentials," sources said. So far, creatively driven, midsize shops in both Boston and San Francisco have been contacted, sources said. It is not known how many agencies have been contacted overall.
Friendly spent $10.5 million on advertising through the first seven months of 1999, per Competitive Media Reporting. Most of that was used to introduce the Cyclone soft-serve product in the 16 East Coast markets where Friendly's 700 owned and franchised restaurants are located.
Client executives believe Berry-Brown's Cyclone work--featuring cute kids and animated cyclones--was merely "competent" and feel improved creative will boost sales, sources said.
In a statement issued last month, Friendly said the introduction of the soft-serve product "had a positive impact on 1999 third-quarter restaurant revenues," which rose to $198 million, a 6 percent improvement over 1998. Net income jumped more than 60 percent to $5.2 million, according to company documents.
--with J. Dee Hill