Ads A la Carte Are New Recipe Of Melting Pot

After being contacted by some 80 agencies, The Melting Pot Restaurants in Tampa, Fla., selected six semifinalists in the review for the creative portion of its $1.5-2 million advertising account.
Last week the client said it sent letters inviting the following shops to participate in a review: LevLane Advertising, Paradigm Communications and Peak Barr Petralia Biety, all Tampa; The Zimmerman Agency in Tallahassee, Fla.; W.T. Quinn in Atlanta; Work in Richmond, Va.; and Associates Design in Northbrook, Ill.
Six shops were culled from about 80 that had submitted unsolicited credentials materials, said Brenda Marrero-Ayoub, director of marketing for the chain of fondue eateries.
Since Curtin & Pease/Peneco in Dunedin, Fla., resigned the business and the account went into review late last year [Adweek, Dec. 15, 1997], the restaurant chain has decided to work with an agency on a project basis.
“We have given some thought as to how we want to structure a relationship with an agency,” said Marrero-Ayoub. “Because our business is very cyclical . . . we’ll break our budget up into projects.”
Although Marrero-Ayoub hopes to assign all Melting Pot ad projects to one agency, “A retainer-based relationship is not going to be the most effective way,” she said. The new shop will handle creative and strategic development and research.
In addition, Marrero-Ayoub said Melting Pot licensees will likely handle media locally.
Will these decisions deter some of the would-be contenders? “It very well may,” Marrero-Ayoub responded. “If anything that will be a good thing, because that will help us narrow down the list.”
Each semifinalist will receive a request for proposal. Presentations for two or three finalists will take place in the next several weeks, with a decision expected in April.
Melting Pot has 40-plus locations around the country, with plans to develop 10 additional markets in the next two years.