By winning the Schlotzsky's Deli creative account last week, McGarrah/Jessee of Austin, Texas, finally crossed a threshold that previously frustrated the two-year-old boutique: beating the big boys.
"Absolutely, without a question," said principal Mark McGarrah. "We certainly have significant accounts, but those are things that have come to us without a review or with people we had a relationship with in the past."
McGarrah/Jessee was chosen over McKinney & Silver of Raleigh, N.C., and Suissa Miller in Los Angeles to develop the first network campaign for the Austin franchisor. Schlotzsky's, which plans a $14 million campaign blitz beginning in April, considered more than two dozen agencies across the country during the review. Western International Media, Chicago, handles media.
In a statement, Schlotzsky's marketing director Lee Applbaum said McGarrah/Jessee showed a "unique way of communicating a visual image" in its presentation of credentials and strategy. Schlotzsky's has grown to 736 stores in 38 states since forming in 1971.
Helping out McGarrah/Jessee in the pitch was Wally Williams, a former GSD&M executive who now runs Austin music house Tequila Mockingbird. Williams has also created freelance ads for some of Schlotzsky's previous regional efforts.
McGarrah/Jessee, which has national accounts with Seiko Communications of America and Savane International Corp., has shown the chops to get into major national or regional pitches before. The shop, however, lost out last year to The Richards Group here for H.E. Butt Grocery Co. and to Long Haymes Carr of Winston-Salem, N.C., for Siemens Wireless Terminals in October 1997.
"I did instantly think back to the Siemens pitch," during the Schlotzsky's review, said McGarrah. "It was the same kind of shops and the same kind of competition. It felt good to win one."