Austin Kelley Advertising won a five-agency race for the $3-5 million account of Rio Bravo Cantina.
The other agencies to make the finals for the account included Henderson Advertising, Greenville, S.C.; Bernstein-Rein and Barkley & Evergreen, both Kansas City, Mo.; and Wyse Advertising in Cleveland. Incumbent McConnaughy Stein Schmidt Brown, Chicago, did not participate.
"We felt a real connection with the [Austin Kelly] team," said Cari Pirello, director of marketing at Rio Bravo. "They came in and presented us with creative that was dead-on target."
"They asked us to prepare strategic and creative recommendations relating to the branding of Rio Bravo," said agency president Jeff Nixon. "The challenge we now have is how to define the Rio Bravo experience. It's casual-dining that offers a very unique experience and great food. Right now they call it 'Unforgettable Mex.' We're going to take that to the next level."
The agency will handle advertising for all 47 Rio Bravo units in 13 states. The reach of the restaurant extends from Orlando, Fla., in the Southeast to Staten Island, N.Y., and as far west as Wichita, Kan. At least 10 more units will open before year's end in markets that include Atlanta; Nashville, Tenn.; Kansas City, Mo.; and Tampa, Fla.
The agency's first creative work for the chain will break in the fall, possibly as soon as September.
"We're going to a major company meeting they're having in August," Nixon said. "The creative for the fall campaign will be ours."
Pirello said she expects the media mix to be "broadcast led," with print support and "lots of local store marketing collateral."
In addition to competing against other Mexican-style restaurants, Rio Bravo officials believe their eateries' atmosphere and menu selection pit them against chains like TGI Friday's and Bennigan's in the casual-dining segment.