An official at Austin Kelley Advertising has denied claims there will be layoffs at the agency in wake of its losing the $15-20 million Churchs Chicken account to Cliff Freeman and Partners.
"We have told the people here that we have field and media responsibilities to the end of the year and we need them to stay," said agency executive vice president Jay Shields. "We are making every effort to replace the business and we have natural attrition that allows us to move those people around. We are making every effort to keep everybody."
Carat North America was selected to handle media, which the 19-month incumbent here also handled.
Other contenders in the review included New York's Lowe & Partners/SMS and Merkley Newman Harty, which teamed with Bayless/Cronin here.
"I was told by [Churchs representative] Brad Haley that we came in second," said Tim Bayless, chief executive officer of the new shop. "He told me that we did an extraordinarily good job. Bottom line, [he] just liked Cliff's a little more."
Added Bayless, "It's a shame to see these Atlanta-based clients keep leaving Atlanta."
Austin Kelly's work lacked consistency, Haley said. One spot featured two fictional TV directors auditioning "the talent," i.e., the food, and assessing its performance. "Gotta love it" was the tagline.
Besides Cliff Freeman's experience in the quick-service restaurant category, Haley said the client was impressed with the shop's work for current clients like Hollywood Video, Staples and Fox Sports Online.
Arthur Bijur, the winning agency's president and executive creative director, said, "We really know how to talk to [Churchs' target consumers] because we've done it before."
He was referring to Cliff Freeman's award-winning "Pizza! Pizza!" advertising for former client Little Caesars and the "Where's the beef?" campaign for Wendy's, another former client.