Nothing ‘Strange’ About Cici’s Service

LOS ANGELES Deutsch/LA has unveiled a pair of 30-second TV spots for Cici’s Pizza focusing on customer service and the chain’s family-friendly atmosphere.

Continuing the year-old tagline “Almost too good to be true,” one spot employs slow-motion shots reminiscent of sports instant replays. It features a middle-aged man at a Cici’s who finds it strange that restaurant staff greet customers with a hello, keep the store spotless and prepare the fresh food to his exact specifications. A voiceover concludes, “We think it’s strange that people think it’s strange.”

A second commercial shows Cici’s from a young boy’s point of view. After reciting a litany of typical rules for kids, the voiceover says, “Parents, step away from the controls.” Left to his own taste, the boy orders pizza topped with macaroni and cheese.

The Coppell, Texas-based client spends about $15 million annually on ads.

Cici’s has moved up to fifth place among all domestic pizza chains, said Ron Paul, president of consultancy Technomic in Chicago. Sales increased 13 percent in 2005 over the previous year, coupled with a 12 percent increase in Cici’s stores open, per Technomic. (The growth of the leading chains, albeit with larger bases of operations, was less, with Pizza Hut up 1.2 percent, Domino’s ahead 4.5 percent and Papa John’s rising 6 percent in 2005.)

“Cici’s has tapped into the budget-pizza market, of which there is apparently a strong demand,” said Paul. “And with only 579 stores, compared to Pizza Hut’s 7,600, there is a lot of room to grow. Cici’s is the value player, in the position Little Caesar’s used to be in.”

Senior vice presidents and associate creative directors Eric Springer (copy) and Michael Bryce (art), working under president and chief creative officer Eric Hirshberg, created the new spots. Mac Carter of Anonymous Content, Culver City, Calif., directed.

The last Cici’s campaign from Deutsch’s Marina del Rey, Calif., office used parodies of classic sitcoms, replete with laugh tracks, to demonstrate family fun, employee training, and represent the chain’s throwback 1950s’ innocence and pricing.