Sizzler Turns to Ground Zero

LOS ANGELES Independent Ground Zero has added creative and strategic duties on Sizzler’s $20 million-plus account without a review, the agency confirmed.

Ground Zero president Andrew Gledhill said the agency here is “looking forward to working with a client that has such great associations with American culture.” Gledhill said the shop is “working on a new strategic positioning for them, with the first creative expected to break in 2008, which is coincidentally their 50th anniversary.”

“I’d heard nothing but accolades from the people that I respect most about Ground Zero,” said Mike Branigan, vice president of marketing, Sizzler USA, Culver City, Calif. “They are buttoned-up, intelligent and key strategists. They dug in and really understood the business.”

Branigan said he’s “looking for the next-level quantum-leap idea about the brand. It is an exciting time for us.”

The Culver City, Calif.-based family steak house chain has 223 locations in 16 states, including 36 company-owned sites.

Branigan said the steak house has long been using “combo-ing” in its marketing, a research-driven brand strategy focusing on steak, seafood and salad combined with various sauces. He added the new positioning would “clarify the entire brand as a clear point of differentiation to all competitive sets.”

Sizzler spent more than $20 million advertising in 2006 and $10 million though May 2007, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Court Crandall, partner and chief creative officer at Ground Zero, has been assigned lead duties for the initial part of the campaign.

Interpublic Group’s Initiative executes Sizzler’s media buying and planning. According to sources, media duties may also go into review or shift soon.

Independent Kovel-Fuller, Culver City, is the creative incumbent, handling the brand for over five years. Agency executives there could not be immediately reached.

Ground Zero’s work in the category dates back to 1994, when it handled Daily Grill. Since then it has not had a restaurant client. The shop also handles Ditech, The History Channel and Pinky vodka, in which it has an equity stake.