Atlanta Agencies Vie for Carvel

Five agencies are contending for the creative and media business of Carvel Corp. as the client seeks to expand its supermarket and franchise-store presence, sources said.

The contenders are Match, T.G. Madison, Fricks/Firestone and Maxx com’s Fletcher Martin Ewing, all in Atlanta, and Interpublic Group’s Suissa Miller in Los Angeles, sources said.

A cut to two or three shops is expected before Christmas, with a final decision in January. Incumbent Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners West in San Francisco is not defending, sources said.

Carvel’s 2001 ad spending was estimated at $2-3 million. That figure is expected to increase to $5 million, sources said.

The Farmington, Conn.-based client operates about 400 ice cream outlets and sells its cakes in some 5,000 supermarkets, primarily on the East Coast and in California.

Carvel competes in an increasingly crowded ice-cream market that includes brands such as Ben & Jerry’s, which recently selected Cliff Freeman and Partners to handle its $5 million ad account, as well as Friendly Ice Cream and Dairy Queen.

Executives at the client, which is owned by Atlanta investment firm Roark Capital, could not be reached.

Sources said Carvel first met with shops in early December to discuss market expansion. “It’s about capturing the loyalty that is so completely connected to that brand,” said one source. “The trick is to introduce it to other markets with that fervor … how to introduce it to another world from where it grew up.”

Recent television spots from Kirshenbaum featured the animated spokescakes Fudgie the Whale and Cookie Puss, which were created by company founder Tom Carvel. The tagline: “We’re creamy. We’re crunchy. We’re Carvel.”

All of the contending agencies have considerable food and franchise experience. Fletcher Martin Ewing has worked with RTM Restaurant Group, which owns Arby’s, Mrs. Winner’s Chicken & Biscuits and Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken, since 1979.

Fricks/Firestone handled Papa John’s $40 million account until this fall, when the business was moved to IPG’s Austin Kelley Advertising in Atlanta. Match has worked for Flowers Bakeries and Mrs. Edwards Pies, and Parmala/Atlanta Dairies has been on T.G. Madison’s roster. Suissa Miller worked on McDonald’s Boston Market brand for six years before losing the business to Boston shop Arnold.