Culver’s to Crash Oscars

NEW YORK Regional burger chain Culver’s Restaurants is prepping its first national TV ad to run during the Academy Awards. Despite having only 395 locations in 17 states, Culver’s is planning a 60-second buy touting its “unbelievable” customer service.

In the spot, a fairly psychotic looking cynic, “Dave,” can’t believe how polite the Culver’s waitress is in one of the chain’s commercials. He shakes his head at this “outbreak of niceness.”

The “Get Culverized” campaign will follow Dave’s antics throughout the year. The work targets men and women, 25-54. Marc USA, Chicago, handles.

“They obviously have big plans,” said Jeff Davis, president of restaurant marketing research firm Sandelman & Associates. “They are well thought of and have a good brand following, but I’m surprised [by the national buy]. Maybe they got a good deal.” The Oscars will be telecast Feb. 22 on ABC.

Chris Contino, vp, marketing for the chain, said in a statement: “Culver’s roots are in the Midwest, but we’re spreading across the country. We’re proof that good companies grow even in challenging times.” The chain is based in Prairie du Sac, Wis.

Culver’s plans to spend $14 million on the campaign. Radio, point-of-purchase, grassroots events and outreach on Twitter support.

The chain pulled in $590 million in sales in 2007, up from $532 million in ’06, per Technomic, Chicago. Last year’s tally was not available.