Shakey’s Evaluates Its Ad Plans

With a new management team and plans for expansion, restaurant chain Shakey’s is examining its marketing efforts and taking a project outside its longtime ad agency, G/F/D/M.

The 47-year-old chain, based in Garden Grove, Calif., operates 73 restaurants nationwide, but plans to double that number in the next five years. Its new president, Sean Flynn, also expects to double ad spending over that period—from a current annual level of about $1.7 million.

G/F/D/M (formerly Asher/Gal & Partners) has handled the account since 1993. However, the company this week expects to name another agency for a project introducing new menu items, said Alan Siskind, a consultant who is working with the client. G/F/D/M was not considered for the assignment, Siskind said.

At least for now, G/F/D/M remains in the mix. Flynn and director of marketing Brian Eskew, another new face at the client, are assessing whether the agency’s work has been “valuable and appropriate,” Flynn said.

“It’s an opportune time to reassess and re-evaluate,” Flynn explained. “[We want] to ensure that we have the best marketing efforts and advertising support possible.”

A decision on whether to review or continue with G/F/D/M will come in the next three months, he said.

Neal Naroff, account supervisor on business, said the shop’s ads for Shakey’s are tagged “Come for the food. Stay for the fun.” Efforts once included general-market TV commercials, but now mostly consist of English- and Spanish-language radio spots and some Spanish TV spots.

“We want to reinvigorate the brand, not reinvent it,” said Flynn. “This brand has a tremendous amount of equity. My job is to capitalize on that.”

G/F/D/M executive creative director Bruce Dundore said he welcomes the scrutiny. “We are the perfect agency for them,” he said. “We have a lot of experience with food.”

G/F/D/M’s longevity on the account “speaks for itself,” Naroff said. “But we realize that is not enough to maintain a piece of business.” He added that the agency has helped Shakey’s achieve “positive sales growth.”

The chain offers pizza, fried chicken and some proprietary items in a “family fun” environment.