Ayer Favorite for Chain Win

By Ellen Rooney Martin and Angela Dawson

CHICAGO–N.W. Ayer & Partners here is in line to win DenAmerica’s $5 million Black-eyed Pea restaurant chain account, according to sources.

Ayer won a creative battle against at least three other unidentified agencies in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Arizona, according to sources. The account had been handled by Puskar Gibbon Chapin, Dallas, which was not invited to defend.

Barry Klein, a Chicago-based consultant, has been working on the review with DenAmerica, a Scottsdale, Ariz., company that bought the Black-eyed Pea chain last June from Unigate Plc in Dallas. Klein said last week that the company intended to mull its agency decision over the weekend and could make an announcement today.

Black-eyed Pea has 100 company- owned and 30 franchised family casual dining restaurants. The menu focuses on Southern cooking with featured items like chicken fried steak.

Ayer’s restaurant experience includes project assignments from Pizza Hut in the past year, according to sources. Executives for both Ayer and DenAmerica could not be reached for comment.

Black-eyed Pea ranks 12th in size in the upscale casual dining category, according to data from Chicago restaurant consultancy Technomic Inc. Category leader Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar today breaks a new campaign, themed ‘You belong at Applebee’s,’ from Wyse Advertising in Cleveland.

DenAmerica also operates 180 franchised Denny’s restaurants and 70 other units of such family-dining chains as Kettle and Friendly restaurants.

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