GGC&Y, Lyon’s Split; Review Expected

Gardner, Geary, Coll & Young has parted ways with Lyon’s Restaurants a year after picking up its estimated $5-7 million account. Plans for an agency review are now in the works, said sources.
Executives at the San Francisco agency declined to comment. Sources said the shop and the Foster City, Calif.-based family restaurant chain “mutually split” last month, primarily due to conflicts in business philosophies with Lyon’s new owner, ICH Corp. in San Diego.
Sources said GGC&Y executives were concerned that ICH was “not planning to follow the same path” that Lyon’s previous management had been taking to rejuvenate the chain, which included major renovations at several restaurants and “major improvements to the quality of food and service.” Instead, the agency believed ICH was choosing a cost-cutting approach that would not coincide with the reimaging plans Lyon’s former owners envisioned for the 85-year-old restaurant brand.
ICH, the second-largest operator of Arby’s restaurants, acquired the 77-unit Lyon’s chain last December for approximately $23 million. Lyon’s, which operates restaurants in California, Nevada and Oregon, had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier last year.
ICH executives did not return phone calls by press time. Sources said the company will most likely seek a new West Coast agency to replace GGC&Y, and is expected to move forward soon with a review. Other finalists in last year’s review were Katsin/Loeb Advertising, Zuckerman Fernandes
& Partners, and the now-defunct Hyett Broadbent & Heimbrodt Advertising, all in San Francisco, as well as incumbent Evans, Hardy & Young, Santa Barbara, Calif.
GGC&Y last June launched a TV and radio campaign for Lyon’s with the tagline “Let’s eat.” The effort positioned Lyon’s as a place where families can sit down, eat and reconnect [Adweek, June 8].
One TV spot featured an overworked man who arrives home in the evening so tired and stressed that he sits down to dinner with his neighbors, mistaking them for his own family. Soon after it rolled out last summer, the campaign was extended to in-store merchandising, such as employee badges, store banners and menus.