Church’s Approaches Final Creative Cut

ATLANTA Church’s Chicken is preparing to narrow its search for a creative agency to three or four finalists, the consultant said. Billings are estimated at $15 million.

The Atlanta-based chain has been visiting multicultural shops and teams of minority and general-market agencies since November, when Melinda Ennis-Roughton was named chief marketing officer [Adweek Online, Nov. 7].

Speaking for the franchise, Sherry Treco-Jones, a search consultant with Agency ID in Decatur, Ga., said she and Ennis-Roughton would continue to visit shops through next week.

Finalists will be asked to complete an assignment for presentations in late February at Church’s headquarters in Atlanta. A decision is expected in March. A new campaign is scheduled to launch in April.

Dallas-based Levenson & Hill, which handles field marketing and shares media-buying responsibilities with Carat in New York, will be included in the review, Treco-Jones said. An agency representative said L&H expects to keep its portion of the business regardless of the results of the creative review.

Church’s executives decided a multicultural shop that could target African American, Hispanic and Anglo customers would be more reflective of its brand than a general-market agency. But sources said the real challenge is pleasing equally diverse franchisees.

“Church’s is still skittish,” said one source. “They’ve had way too many agencies in the last few years to have another false start.”

Sources close to the search said finding an appropriate agency would be tricky. “They’re looking for that unique blue-collar white, African American and Latino [skill set] in one agency,” said one source.

The advertiser’s current campaign featuring animated characters was created by roster shop Gekko Motion in Johannesburg, South Africa. The client’s last agency of record, however, was Omnicom’s BaylessCronin in Atlanta, which lost the business last year and has since closed.

Church’s is a division of AFC Enterprises in Atlanta.