Bennigan’s Gets Its Irish Up at Richard’s Latitude

Latitude, a division of The Richards Group, has gained the estimated $3 million promotions account of Bennigan’s Irish American Grill & Tavern.

The move represents an account consolidation for Bennigan’s at Richards, which was hired early last year to handle the client’s brand advertising.

Marc/USA in Dallas most recently handled the restaurant chain’s promotions.

Bennigan’s total advertising and promotions budget is about $10 million, according to the client.

Latitude’s relationship with Bennigan’s began in late 1999.

“We got a call from [Bennigan’s senior vice president of marketing] John Beck … looking for some help on a problem store situation,” said Latitude managing principal Stuart Hayashi. “We did a little project work for them. It took a full year later for [Beck] to say hey, he did want to do something with promotions.”

Said Beck, in a statement: “The marketing synergy that will result from both Latitude and The Richards Group working together on our business was a key driver in our decision.

“In the short time we’ve been working with Latitude, they’ve brought tremendous value to the table.”

Bennigan’s becomes one of the top five clients on Latitude’s roster. The Dallas shop’s first assignment will be to roll out a local marketing program, followed by national in-restaurant promotions.

In March, Richards launched its first campaign for the client to coincide with St. Patrick’s Day. Radio and TV ads currently airing feature Irish pub songs celebrating little victories such as finding a parking spot at the mall or successfully rebooting a computer without calling tech support. The spots end with the Irish toast, “Slainte!”

The Plano, Texas-based chain, part of the Metromedia Restaurant Group, has been returning to its Irish roots over the past several years. But the new campaign, according to company spokesperson Chris Barnes, “is the first time we’ve been as aggressive and consistent about our Irishness outside of St. Patrick’s Day.”

Bennigan’s plans to open 50 res-taurants this year, including a number in 10-11 new U.S. markets.