Zimmerman Tapped As Agency For Chuck E. Cheese's

Shop Will Help Steer Chain's Push To Appeal To Consumers Beyond Kids

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Customers order food at the register inside a Chuck E. Cheese's entertainment center in Dallas, Texas, U.S.
Customers order food at the register inside a Chuck E. Cheese's entertainment center in Dallas, Texas, U.S. Credit: Ben Torres/Bloomberg

Amid an effort to make its restaurants more appealing to adults, Chuck E. Cheese's has selected Omnicom's Zimmerman Advertising as its new agency.

The Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based shop will handle strategy, promotion, media and integrated creative, according to a press release. There was no consultant overseeing the review.

The restaurant chain has been undergoing several changes in the last year, including adding new menu items like BBQ chicken pizza and wraps, all in an effort to make the brand more appealing to parents, and not just kids, as well as revive sales.

"We have always been a restaurant focused on kids, but now we are also looking to improve the experience for parents," said Chief Marketing Officer Michael Hartman, who joined the chain in January from SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. "We need an agency able to keep up with our breakneck pace and hunger for consumer insight...we found Zimmerman shares our vision for success and obsession with metrics. They are the right agency at the right time to help us ring in a new era."

It's not clear what the creative will entail, but the company is continuing to use its longtime tagline, "Where a kid can be a kid." Mr. Hartman said that "we are evolving our marketing strategy and tactics to better reach and convert our core targets."

Chuck E. Cheese's has had an ongoing sales slide in the last handful of years, according to Technomic. In 2014, it had about 545 restaurants in the U.S., with an estimated $365 million in systemwide sales. In 2013, the chain had 542 locations and an estimated $384 million in revenue. In 2009, it had about 523 locations and an estimated $428 million in systemwide sales.

U.S. measured media spending last year was about $28 million, roughly the same as the prior year, according to Kantar Media.

For Zimmerman, the win is the latest in a series of accounts that the agency has brought in (another recent one is Jamba Juice, which the shop won in recent weeks) since Deutsch's former CMO Michael Goldberg joined the agency as CEO in September. Prior to Mr. Goldberg's arrival, the shop's Zgroup arm lost the Papa John's business to Grey in February 2014, though the agency continues to handle media and some co-op work.

"Chuck E. Cheese's is a great concept with brand recognition off the charts. We are excited to work with a leadership team so focused on consumer experience," said Mr. Goldberg. "This is more than a legacy brand, it's a great restaurant. As long as families with young kids are eating out, our opportunity is more frequent consideration."

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