Checkers Drive-In Restaurants Leaves Incumbent

Ends 3-Year Relationship With Miami’s Crispin Porter & Bogusky
ATLANTA–Checkers Drive-In Restaurants’ $10 million marketing account has been put into review. Crispin Porter & Bogusky, the chain’s agency, has declined to participate.
Select Resources International in Los Angeles will conduct the search for the Clearwater, Fla., client. A request for proposals went out last week. Miami’s CP&B held the account for three years.
“It’s a nice piece of business and we’re sorry to see them go,” said Jeff Steinhour, partner and director of account services at CP&B. “But the winds of change were in the air.”
Those winds began blowing harder last December with the arrival of Checkers CEO Daniel Dorsch, the latest player in a series of management shuffles intended to drive the sagging chain back toward profitability.
Thus far, Dorsch’s slash-and-burn tactics have boosted sales, reduced corporate debt by 60 percent, and inched stock that was selling as high as $18 per share three years ago back toward $5.
But sources said the essential problem remains: pricing was the leverage that allowed smaller “challenger brands” like Krystals and Miami Subs to vie against the McDonald’s and Burger Kings.
“Checkers was one of first chains to offer value-priced meals,” said Steinhour. “Now, you can get two Whoppers for a buck. As everybody’s pricing came down, Checkers’ position was eroded.”
In an attempt to break out of the pack, the agency created a series of print, broadcast and outdoor ads leveraging Checker’s speedy service and menu. The most recent centered around Holly, an animated bombshell who insists, “In Holly’s world, only performance counts.”
Sales, until recently, remained essentially flat. “We tried to build something overarching,” said Steinhour. “You’ve got to stand for something other than ‘I hope your hungry’ when you’re being outspent four-to-one by the big boys.”
The company owns, operates and franchises about 950 restaurants across the U.S. under the Checkers and Rally’s names.