The Tombras Group Takes Us Back to the ’90s in New Work for Zaxby’s

By Erik Oster 

Knoxville-based agency The Tombras Group seems to have had a bit of fun with ’90s trends in its new campaign for Athens, Georgia-based fast food chain Zaxby’s.

The Zima and Surge-fueled campaign, presumably created while listening to a soundtrack of Chumbawamba, Aqua, Kris Kross, Spice Girls, and Hanson, promotes the return of Zaxby’s Zensation and the introduction of its new Zensation sandwich. (We’re sure they left time for Blossom, Clarissa Explains It All and Dawson’s Creek marathons, too).

The creative team apparently took the idea of customers asking when the Zensation (an item not regularly available on menus) would be back and decided to run with it.


A trio of ads open with that someone exclaiming “It’s back,” followed by a series character apparently longing for certain ’90s fads (think shoulder pads, frosted tips and lots of denim) to return wishfully offering up suggestions. None of them are correct, but they don’t seem too upset about it once they find out about the Zensation.

’90s nostalgia is hardly a new focus for advertising (Rosapark’s “Ugly in the 90s” for Skoda arguably did it best). Still, it’s not hard to understand why millennial creatives (or, uh, trade journalists) can’t resist having some fun with ’90s references. Zaxby’s and The Tombras Group clearly hope that enthusiasm translates to audiences and the approach does make for tongue-in-cheek ads that are pretty easy to digest, even if they make for better conversation fodder than viewing.

“The Zensation zalad has an incredibly devoted fan base and we wanted to acknowledge that following in a fun and memorable way,” Tombras president Dooley Tombras said in a statement. “This campaign shows the saucy side of Zaxby’s personality.”