SSC Serves Zea Restaurant’s Mea Culpas

ATLANTA Two weeks after receiving letters from attorneys for eateries Ruby Tuesday and TGI Friday’s complaining about the use of their names in advertising for Zea restaurant, Sullivan-St. Clair replaced the campaign today with one that apologizes to the two chains, the agency said.

New Orleans-based Zea and the independent Mobile, Ala., shop decided it would be better to comply with the cease-and-desist letters and use the opportunity to launch a new campaign than to fight in court, said agency president Rich Sullivan. Zea has four restaurants, including the single location in Mobile, where the campaign is running. Ruby Tuesday and Friday’s each have more than 700 restaurants.

“We weren’t doing anything wrong,” Sullivan said. “We just said we weren’t Ruby Tuesday or Friday’s.”

The replacement campaign includes the same single billboard where the previous ad had run. Instead of the “Goodbye Ruby Tuesday” or “Thank God it’s not Friday’s” messages, the billboard declares, “We apologize for mentioning the restaurants _______ and _______ in our advertising.” The ad contains the Zea logo and the address of its single location in Mobile.

A radio campaign that launched today suggests changing the names of the two days of the week that the chains employ in their names.

A print ad consists of a letter of apology explaining the demands from the lawyers and vowing to never speak the names of the two restaurants again. It also offers to allow the two restaurants to use Zea’s name whenever they want.

“We wish both these unspeakable corporations, as well as their highly paid hordes of Northern lawyers, and our good local citizens a wonderful holiday season and a prosperous 2005,” the letter ends.

Sullivan said he expects the new campaign to draw even more attention, and business, to Zea. Since the shop launched the first campaign for the restaurant in September, sales have been up 25 percent, he said.