Down-Home Appeals for Capt. D’s

Sullivan Higdon & Sink showcases Southern hospitality and authenticity for seafood restaurant Captain D’s in its first campaign since winning the $12 million account.

Three TV spots that break in January introduce a new spokes-character for the Nashville, Tenn.-based client. A store manager named “Louise” puts a face on the chain, said Tug McTighe, senior copywriter at the Kan-sas City, Mo., agency.

“This is a company that is built in the South, and there is a lot of Southern hospitality there,” Mc-Tighe said. “We’re trying to position [Captain D’s] as somewhere in between a QSR and a [full-service] fish restaurant.”

Each spots addresses a different brand attribute. In one, Louise describes how to make a hush puppy, thereby highlighting Captain D’s commitment to authenticity. In another ad touting variety, Louise says the only fish one cannot get at a Captain D’s is sushi. The third spot depicts a worker delivering a karate kick to a breading machine.

A new tagline, “You’re always welcome aboard,” replaces, “Captain D’s please.” The slogan is also meant to invoke Southern hospitality, said Paul Diamond, senior art director at SHS. “They want people to come in, sit down and stay,” he said. The restaurant is trying to be the “anti-get in, get out” chain.

The spots will air in nearly 40 markets. Captain D’s operates 560 locations in 22 states, primarily in the Southeast.

SHS has also re-vamped in-store signage. The work is meant to evoke dock-side fish shacks by resembling hand-painted wooden signs. One, for the Jumbo Fish Platter, reads, “If you are what you eat, you’d be flaky and tasty.”

SHS won the account in May following a review that included Fahlgren in Dublin, Ohio, Fricks/Firestone in Atlanta and The Buntin Group in Nashville, Tenn. The incumbent, Fogarty Klein Monroe in Houston, did not participate.

At the time of the win, the account was estimated at $12 million. Captain D’s spent $3 million on ads last year and about the same through August 2002, per CMR.