ATLANTA - If Austin Kelley Advertising is to maintain its claim on the $10 million advertising account of Churchs Chicken, the local shop will have to fend off a formidable trio of agencies headquartered in New York.
Competing for the Atlanta-based client, along with the incumbent, are Cliff Freeman and Partners, Lowe & Partners/SMS and Merkley Newman Harty, all of New York.
According to Churchs chief marketing officer Brad Haley, the review will last through the summer. He said he wants to have a decision made before the fall, when the next major campaign for the restaurant chain is expected.
"Our goal has been to find stellar creative," Haley said. "I think I've spoken to the most creative shops in the Eastern half of the United States, and now have a list where no one has an account conflict."
Haley said he will make himself and company research available to all four shops as part of their preparation to pitch the business.
"It's the way I like to run these things," Haley said. "We can work together as if we were in a client-agency relationship to the point of creative brief discussions and tissue sessions. It gives us a feeling of working together."
Haley added that another benefit of the process is that presentation efforts are likely to be work that can be produced quickly after an agency decision.
Churchs, a division of AFC (America's Favorite Chicken) Enterprises, also of Atlanta, went to Austin Kelley in January 1998. Last November the agency produced its second major creative effort for the fast-food chain using its ongoing "Gotta love it" tagline.
Haley joined the company earlier this year from a marketing post with Jack in the Box. He replaced Sue Morgan, who left Churchs. Haley reports to company president Hala Moddelmog. ¡