CiCi’s Pizza Launches ‘Five Bucks and Change’

NEW YORK CiCi’s Pizza has launched new TV and radio ads to entice cash-strapped consumers to try the fast-casual chain’s “five bucks and change” value menu.

Two radio spots break tomorrow. The first, called “Fat Cat,” has a no-nonsense male voice poking fun at Wall Street’s “suit and soft handshakes” types. “Well, I, for one, have had enough. Instead of fat cats, we need hungry cats . . . on the prowl for big value,” the voiceover says. The second radio segment says consumers need CiCi’s now more than ever. “Never has value been more important, and never has CiCi’s been more needed. We offer all the tasty, cheesy pizza, pasta, salad and dessert you want for only five bucks in change, and we offer it everyday, which is why we say, ‘if you’ve got five bucks in change, you’ve got to go to CiCi’s,'” the spot concludes. Deutsch, Los Angeles, handles.

A new TV spot also breaks this week, called “Alien.” It shows two men examining a dead alien inside a lab. “Wait, check the fanny pack,” one of the men says. His partner does and finds five bucks and change. He says: “You gotta go to CiCi’s,” as eerie music plays in the background.

Both the radio and the TV spots are a continuation of the chain’s campaign dubbed “You’ve got five bucks and change,” which began last month, and play off of the same theme. CiCi’s initially launched two TV spots: “Line Jumper,” which shows a male customer so overwhelmed by the smell of freshly baked pizza, he cuts in line in front of a woman and feels her rage; and “Game Show,” where a contestant wins five bucks for giving a wrong answer and the game show host consoles him by suggesting he get a decent meal at CiCi’s.

CiCi’s plans to extend the campaign with a radio spot advertising its $5 for 24-feet of buffet food value offer beginning on Nov. 19.

“We understand what it’s like out there. We understand that people are having to pinch pennies, and at CiCi’s, you can still go out and enjoy yourself with your family at an [affordable] price,” said CiCi’s marketing director Sara Hundley. Hundley said the campaign appeals to consumers in the 18-49 range, as this demographic is also trading down from casual to fast-casual dining.

In creating the ads, Deutsch president Mike Sheldon said the agency also took into account consumer tendency to turn to brands they trust in a down economy. That’s why the new TV and radio spots emphasize the brand name even more than the value offer: “In these trying times . . . it’s not enough to be a brand out there with a low price, we’ve got to be a brand that consumers feel they know well,” Sheldon said.

Darren Tristano, evp at market research firm Technomic, Chicago, said that while the quality of the message seems to work, CiCi’s call to action isn’t all that different from other price-driven promotions out there, including Subway’s $5 foot-long. Tristano added that each ad seems to take viewers out of the restaurant environment with the exception of “Line Jumper.” “It doesn’t drive home the important point of all-you-can-eat,” he said.

CiCi’s spent almost $25 million on advertising in 2007 and $18 million through August of this year (excluding online), per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.