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WongDoody Shakes Things Up for Johnny Rockets

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WongDoody is getting a shot at guiding the marketing efforts of fast-food ham burger and malt chain Johnny Rockets.

The popular East and West Coast 1950s-style eatery tapped the agency to handle a print, in-store promotion and radio campaign following an informal review of Los Angeles and Orange County shops.

The Seattle-based agency's Los Angeles office edged out neighboring shops E Squared and The Woo Agency, as well as Hendry, Lindman & Feltman in Irvine, Calif., and Marketeam in Laguna Hills, Calif.

Johnny Rockets, based in Irvine, plans to spend about $350,000 on the initial campaign. But following the assignment, which will launch around Thanksgiving, WongDoody could be named the 14-year-old company's first-ever lead agency, according to client and agency representatives. Also, the ad budget is expected to increase to more than $1 million in 2001.

"They are a hot shop and they're amazing," said Kimberly Myers, client executive director of marketing. "We really haven't maximized the company or leveraged the power of the brand."

WongDoody managing partner Ben Wiener agreed, saying Johnny Rockets is a brand with much potential.

"They're really trying to upgrade their marketing efforts. They haven't done much advertising before," he said. "They just need to tell their story, like drawing attention to the fact that they pour the ketchup for you, and when you get a shake, they give you the extra stuff. That's cool stuff."

The privately held Johnny Rockets operation includes 140 franchised restaurants in 25 states and nine countries, including Australia and Kuwait. The first Johnny Rockets opened on trendy Melrose Ave. in Los Angeles in 1986. Today, the company's revenues are estimated at $120 million annually.