Richards Gets Bennigan’s Irish Up for New Menu

Bennigan’s Irish American Grill and Tavern toasts “spirit that’s Irish and food that ain’t” in new television spots airing this summer.

The series extends Bennigan’s current “Pub songs” campaign developed by The Richards Group in Dallas. Set to play in 11 markets including Chicago, New York and Houston on network affiliates and cable channels such as Comedy Central, Lifetime and MTV, the work introduces the restaurant’s new non-Irish entrees and reinforces Bennigan’s as the fun, Gaelic-themed venue.

The commercials, shot by Tom Ryan of Directorz in Dallas, feature different dishes, including Carib-bean crab cakes, ahi tuna steak salad and O’Malley’s pork chops. The narrator toasts “the Irish spirit in all its disguises” and “any excuse for a celebration.”

While the tone of the latest “Toast to new taste” ef-fort is similar to the earlier “Pub songs” push and also targets 21-39-year-olds, Richards faced the challenge of introducing Asian and Mediterranean food while maintaining an Irish spirit, said agency copywriter Chris Smith.

Smith attributed the menu upgrade to Bennigan’s desire to attract more dinner-time patrons and to keep pace with changing tastes. The eatery last altered its food fare in early 2000.

The client, part of Plano, Texas-based Metromedia Restaurant Group, hopes the Irish theme will further differentiate the chain from chief competitors Chili’s Grill and Bar and TGI Friday’s.

“The whole Irishness thing is our hook to separate us,” said Smith. “No other competitor could come out with the Irish spirit and Irish music and pull it off.”

The spots, each of which will air in three-week flights through the end of July and again in the fall, are supported by radio, public relations, in-store merchandising and an Internet micro-site featuring the new menu.