Blimpie Eyes 12 Shops

ATLANTA — Blimpie Subs & Salads is considering a dozen shops in its search for a new agency to handle creative and media planning. Shops receiving the RFP: Avrett Free Ginsberg, Berlin Cameron & Partners, Bouchez Kent + Co., DeVito/Verdi, DiNoto Lee, Mad Dogs & Englishmen and Hampel/Stefanides, all in New York; Adworks, Washington; Trone Advertising, Greensboro, N.C.; Austin Kelley Advertising and Fitzgerald + Co., both in Atlanta; and one undisclosed agency. Consultant Hasan Ramusevic, of Hasan + Co., Raleigh, N.C., is managing the review. San Francisco’s Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners West, which had held the business for seven years, was fired by the Atlanta-based client in the fall. Ad spending is estimated at $10-15 million. Media buying for the sandwich chain is handled by various shops; it is not in review. According to the RFP, a cut to six semifinalists will be made before Christmas. Credentials and “chemistry meetings” will be held the week of Jan. 7. Three finalists will get a creative assignment for presentation in early February. The winner will attempt to reposition Blimpie and resuscitate the brand, sources said. “Blimpie has been severely outspent by [chief rival] Subway,” said one executive. Subway spent about $130 million in 2000, compared with $7 million last year for Blimpie, according to CMR. Contenders must demonstrate an understanding of the client’s issues, such as differentiating the company from the competition, and have experience in repositioning other brands, said another source. Parent company Blimpie International, New York, has about 2,000 franchisee-operated restaurants in the U.S. and 60 internationally.