Di Zinno Thompson Gives George Face Time

LOS ANGELES Boldly colored print ads by independent Di Zinno Thompson are intended to make popular San Diego restaurateur George Hauer’s face as familiar as his name, according to an agency representative.

Hauer’s restaurant, George’s at the Cove, has been a staple of Southern California’s fine-dining scene since opening in 1996, the rep said. Hauer, however, had never invested in a formal brand-strategizing campaign. When he decided last autumn it was time to invigorate marketing efforts, Hauer turned to San Diego-based Di Zinno Thompson to design a plan.

“Think about what fine-dining advertising typically is: You show a piece of meat, or a picture of the chef,” said Di Zinno creative director Robert Borges. That route would not have been the most effective way to promote George’s assets, he said.

“George’s is an institution,” Borges explained; its reputation as an “upscale, elegant” waterfront eatery was already well established. It was Hauer’s personality, Borges said, that set the restaurant apart from other fine-dining destinations.

“When we met George, he was so charismatic and California cool—successful, comfortable, approachable,” Borges recalled. “Why not put a face to it?”

Emphasizing both Hauer and his “personal philosophies on food and dining,” a Di Zinno creative team including Borges, art director Joel Paynel and copywriter Christine Coe came up with the tagline, “Good man, great food.”

The campaign’s first four ads, running in current and soon-to-publish magazines, feature photos of a sharply dressed Hauer alongside his lighthearted culinary insights. In one execution, a quote reads, “Our beef is free of hormones, free from genetically enhanced feeds, and that’s where our beef and ‘free’ part ways.” Another quips, “Twelve years of eating public school cafeteria food taught George an important lesson: uninspired menus lead to food fights.”

The agency will craft “10 or 12” of these ads by the end of the year, the rep said. The work is scheduled to appear in regional and national editions of InStyle, Travel & Leisure, Food & Wine, Forbes, Fortune and San Diego, among other periodicals.

Di Zinno has also partnered with San Diego independent 1011 to design an interactive George’s at the Cove Web site.

Campaign ad spending was not revealed, but the agency said its media budget was both “reasonable” and “not excessive.”