Scharbo Regains LongHorn

Close to a year after losing the account that established his agency, Ron Scharbo saw LongHorn Steakhouse return to Scharbo & Co. here. The $6-7 million account had been with Crispin Porter & Bogusky in Miami.
The decision came after the restaurant chain reviewed Scharbo & Co.–which held the account prior to CP&B–and two other Atlanta shops, Fricks/Firestone and 360, according to client marketing director Rob Crews.
CP&B was invited to defend the business, Crews said. It instead elected to resign the account.
Scharbo won back the business based on its “history in growing the brand,” Crews said. The agency created the popular “Big-Haired Lady” spokescharacter LongHorn recently revived in the Atlanta market.
LongHorn plans to stick with the “Passion for Steak” theme developed by CP&B, although Crews said, “It’s likely that we will see a different execution on that strategy.”
“We’re going to sit down this week and start planning [the future],” Scharbo said. “We have to evaluate the equity LongHorn has in the marketplace, and that includes campaigns that did well in the past.”
Crews attributed the decision for an agency review to new players at LongHorn. Marketing vice president Lane Schmiesing and chief executive officer Dick Rivera departed last month. Crews joined the company in May and had reported to Schmiesing, who will not be replaced; Crews now reports to Bob Ferngren, executive vice president and concept head since February.
“I had hoped that some day things would come full circle,” Scharbo said. “There are a number of new people [at LongHorn] in critical positions, so we went in there making it clear we weren’t assuming anything. We wanted to demonstrate our understanding of their business.”