TGI Friday’s Sends Creative to McCann New York

MullenLowe previously worked on account

The restaurant chain is switching agency partners following a spate of executive changes.
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McCann New York has won lead creative duties for TGI Friday’s without a formal review.

MullenLowe’s Winston-Salem, N.C., office previously handled creative duties for the chain, which started working with the IPG agency in 2018. Earlier this year, MullenLowe created a TV and digital campaign called “TGIF*IT” that encouraged diners to forgo their New Year’s resolutions to enjoy the chain’s appetizers, entrées and desserts.

The agency shake-up comes months after TGI Friday’s underwent some executive changes. Late last year, the brand hired Cindy Syracuse to serve as vice president of marketing months after its CMO Stephanie Perdue departed the chain for Chipotle. Syracuse formerly served as vp of marketing activation at TGI Friday’s in addition to holding top roles at Burger King and Omnicom agency Zimmerman. TGI Friday’s also hired Ray Blanchette, who previously led Ruby Tuesday, to fill the CEO role in October.

“McCann values match our brand values,” Syracuse said in a statement. “They lead with great client service, deliver innovative thinking and break through creative.”

TGI Friday’s hasn’t had a consistent agency partner in recent years. In 2017, it reunited with Dallas-based The Richards Group, naming the indie shop its agency of record for the second time. Prior to that, it worked with Boulder, Colo., agency Made Movement on project-based campaigns.

In March, TGI Friday’s selected IPG Mediabrands’ Universal McCann (UM) as its U.S. media agency. According to McCann New York, it will “collaborate” with its sister agency on the account.

The client’s statement does not refer to McCann as agency of record. TGI Friday’s last announced a new AOR in early 2017 when it hired The Richards Group. That decision also did not include a formal review.

“We’re delighted that TGI Fridays has chosen us to be their brand’s creative partner, especially at this exciting time when they are focused on transforming and expanding their brand,” said Devika Bulchandani, president of McCann New York, in a statement. “We look forward to helping them drive success for the brand in all of their communications and engagements, both externally and internally with employees.”

A source close to the matter cited an existing relationship between Bulchandani and Syracuse in explaining why the agency and client came together. TGI Friday’s representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The chain spent nearly $30 million on measured marketing domestically in 2018, according to Kantar Media. In the first quarter of 2019, it spent nearly $12 million.

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