LONG JOHN SILVER AND FALLON PART WAYS

Agency Was Hired in 2000 to Handle $40 Million Account

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Publicis Groupe's Fallon, Minneapolis, said it has parted ways with Long John Silver's after 25 months.

The quick-service seafood chain now is reviewing three agencies for the $40 million account, according to executives close to the marketer.

Competing for the business are Interpublic Group of Cos. shops Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide, Chicago, and Campbell Ewald, Warren, Mich.; and independent Cliff Freeman & Partners, New York, the company said. A decision is expected in 30 to 45 days.

Mike Baker, vice president of national marketing at Long John Silver's, said the agencies were chosen based on their track records. "We respect their work and they understand the category and they understand our users," he said.

Struggled with concepts
Long John Silver's,

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part of Yorkshire Global Restaurants, hired Fallon in March 2000. Since then, the agency struggled to find a winning ad concept for the chain, though that hadn't hurt sales, which were positive for the marketer.

"Our business experienced wonderful sales growth during our two years with Fallon. We have a great respect for their abilities," Mr. Baker said. But, he added, "it's fair to say that Fallon just wasn't the right fit for us."

Fallon produced several one-offs, or single-concept ads, including a series of controversial spots using little people, and later introduced a wise-cracking shrimp named Pepe. Pepe was to have starred in radio, TV and Internet spots and on store displays, but the character was dropped from a recent TV campaign.

Merger with Tricon
The chain's strong sales helped fuel Yorkshire Global Restaurants' agreement last month to merge with Tricon Global Restaurants. News of the pending merger further put Fallon's future in question, but both sides at the time said there were no plans to make an agency change.

Tricon is the parent company of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.

"We enjoyed our working experience with Long John Silver's, but their changing business environment is taking them in a different direction," David Lubars, Fallon's president and executive creative director, said in a statement.

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