Hard Rock Cafe Auditions Duo

ATLANTA-The Hard Rock Cafe is looking at two agencies for a national branding assignment that could eventually include media responsibilities as well.
Billings for the assignment are estimated at $4-6 million.
Sources said the Orlando, Fla.-based chain of rock ‘n’ roll theme restaurants is hearing final presentations from Fountainhead Advertising in Atlanta and Wieden & Kennedy in Portland, Ore. Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco declined an invitation to pitch.
An official with the client would only say that Hard Rock is looking at two shops, that the process is closed to any other agencies, and a decision is expected to be made by early June.
There is presently no incumbent agency. The client maintains an in-house graphics department and handles media buying from its corporate office. Individual restaurants also frequently place their own media.
If Fountainhead is successful in landing the business, it will be that agency’s second time with Hard Rock. Previously, the shop had been a “creative resource” for the restaurant, creating what agency principal Doug Warner called a “worldwide creative directory.” The “book” provided managers with print ads, postcards, direct mailing pieces and other marketing elements that could be used at a local level, without having to hire an agency.
When that assignment was completed, Fountainhead did some work with Planet Hollywood. Warner said that restaurant relationship stagnated, allowing his shop to be in the position to listen to another overture from Hard Rock.
Client official Christi Conti said the account in review involves only the chain’s 40-plus U.S. locations. (Hard Rock has 102 restaurants worldwide.) An executive committee will review the two presentations before client vice president of marketing Dave Gust announces a decision.