After the chain's sale aborted an earlier review, Country Kitchen's new owners have selected an advertising agency that wasn't initially pitching the business: Lindsay, Stone & Briggs in Madison, Wis.
LS&B was not among the four finalists in last summer's review, which was put on hold in late July when the chain was sold to its largest franchisee group, the Kitchen Investment Group of Madison, Wis.
The previous owner, Carlson Hospitality Worldwide in Minneapolis, had narrowed its list to incumbent TVRP Creative and MMG Worldwide, both in Kansas City, Mo.; and Minneapolis shops Bozell and Kerker & Associates.
Aric Nissen, director of marketing under the new ownership, became acquainted with LS&B at a seminar the agency hosted over the summer. A presentation was arranged for early September, which led to LS&B's securing the account.
No stranger to the restaurant business, LS&B did project work for Country Kitchen several years ago, according to Richard Stone, chief operating officer and executive vice president of the agency. The shop has also done work for Cousin's Subs and the Chancery restaurant chain, Stone said.
Country Kitchen will continue to use existing work from TVRP Creative until next spring, when LS&B's national campaign is expected to debut, Stone said. In addition to handling advertising, media buying and local store marketing programs, the agency will be involved in menu design and has been asked to pitch ideas on decor.
The challenge is differentiating Country Kitchen restaurants from their myriad competitors, Stone said. "We want to make their concept relevant to today's marketplace," he said. "Families are looking to spend meaningful time together."
With estimated 1996 system sales of $211 million, Country Kitchen is the 14th largest midscale family restaurant chain in the U.S., according to Chicago consultancy Technomic Inc.
Its 250 units sport a country decor, and some units along roadways include small retail shops.
The client spent less than $1 million on advertising in 1996, according to Competitive Media Reporting.