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Cooker Restaurants Taps Crispin

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Set to Shake Up 'Too Crowded, Me-Too' Casual Dining Category
ATLANTA--In what it hopes is a $5 million appetizer before a celebratory feast, Crispin Porter & Bogusky added Cooker Restaurants to its plate last week.
The Miami agency is awaiting this week's decision in the $150-225 million American Legacy Foundation national anti-tobacco review, in which it is teamed with Arn-old Communications of Boston.
CP&B chairman Chuck Porter reluctantly expressed guarded optimism about the ALF review. But he had no reservations in plugging "the best food in the casual food category . . . The agency gained a little over 40 pounds doing research on that."
Porter said Cooker chief executive officer Glen Cockburn approached the agency "and said to us, 'We like your work, tell us how you'd handle us.' It wasn't a competitive pitch, but we did make a presentation."
Cockburn said CP&B was recommended to him by a friend at an online shop in the Northeast after explaining what he wanted in an agency.
"They're young, hip and quick, and we need that," Cockburn said. "We're small and they're smart."
Meridian Communications had held the account, but split with Cooker over "philosophical differences" earlier this year, said the Lexington, Ky., agency's president, Mary Ellen Slone.
Competitive Media Reporting cites no 1998 spending by the chain.
"Cooker hasn't advertised much, and I think that's been one of their problems," Porter said. He added that although a budget had not been formalized, it was expected to be around $5 million.
"We didn't take this because it's a gigantic piece of business, but because it's a cool category and there are some smart things we can do. It's a really a great chance to stand out," Porter said.
Calling casual dining a "too crowded, me-too category . . . [where] all the commercials look the same," Porter said CP&B's mission is to "dramatize [Cooker's] normalcy."
"They don't really have a theme," Porter said. "They're unlike Applebee's Olive Garden or Chili's in that they don't feel very chainy . . .
They're all individual [and] feel more like a local bar and grill. It gives them a welcoming attitude. We need to dramatize that attitude, [which] lends itself to some really distinctive advertising."
Based in Palm Beach, Fla., Cooker currently operates 64 restaurants in nine states.