SMZ Puts Spotlight on Strawberries for Big Boy

Big Boy is highlighting its annual strawberry festival in a new 30-second spot from Simons Michelson Zieve that breaks today.

The spot focuses on a die-hard Big Boy fan who camps out in front of the local store to be the first in line to get a slice of strawberry pie, which is the chain’s special through June 24.

The spot spoofs the frenzy of a crowd waiting in line for tickets to a concert, with a main character who wears a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan, “Strawberry Festival ’73.”

As the spot comes to a close, a wider camera shot reveals that the festival veteran is not alone—a long line of tents and lawn chairs are set up outside a Big Boy. People are chanting, holding up lighters and displaying signs with slogans such as “Give pie a chance,” and “Strawberries rock.”

Mort Zieve, chairman of the Troy, Mich., agency, said the shop took a more light-hearted approach in creating this campaign than it has in past years. Spots from the past several years have taken a more earnest tack, focusing on the quality of the ingredients used by the Warren, Mich.-based restaurant chain.

The strawberry festival ads run in spot buys throughout Michigan and in northern Ohio. Big Boy has 455 restaurants throughout the U.S. as well as locations in Japan and Egypt, but nearly half of its units are in the Michigan-Ohio area.

The festival spot is a transitional effort for Big Boy Restaurants International, which has a new campaign and tagline set for a September launch to coincide with a remodeling of the chain’s restaurants. The current campaign has no tagline.

Zieve said this campaign is significant for the agency and the company because it’s the first work to be produced under the Warren, Mich., company’s new ownership—Robert Liggett purchased the chain in December after the previous owner, Elias Bros., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

SMZ has had the Big Boy account since 1974.

Big Boy executives commissioned a market research study to examine consumer perceptions of the chain.

“We wanted to find out what their strengths are and why people come to eat here and also why they don’t come,” Zieve said.