Ogilvy Hired for Strategic Assignment; Eyes $75 Million Creative Account

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CHICAGO ( -- Baby Bob may get a pink slip before he gets a chance to try the Quiznos subs he’s been hawking since the Super Bowl.

The baby with a 40-year-old bricklayer's voice has an unclear future at Quiznos.
The privately held No. 2 sub chain has hired WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather, Chicago, and plans to cut the baby talk as it gets serious about taking on No. 1 Subway Restaurants.

Ogilvy has been hired to handle a “strategic” assignment, according to executives close to the marketer, but also may be given creative duties for 2006. Two executives said the company will end its Baby Bob campaign by the end of the year. Quiznos spent an estimated $75 million for the 12 months ended June 2005.

Independent Siltanen & Partners, El Segundo, Calif., brought out of retirement the wry-talking tot who waxes about toasted sandwiches rather than strained peas.

Under new management
Since the baby was cast as the spokesman for the $1.1 billion chain, Quiznos Chief Concept Officer Tom Ryan has taken over marketing duties from Trey Hall, who left to return to McDonald’s Corp.-owned Boston Market. Mr. Ryan tapped Ogilvy, one of his favorite ad agencies, to help drive a more product-oriented marketing strategy.

“Ryan loves Ogilvy and he hates Baby Bob,” said one executive close to the marketer. “He’s moving to a strategy that’s all about taste.” Ogilvy PR had handled public relations for the chain until December 2004.

Siltanen referred calls to the marketer, which hasn’t returned repeated calls. Ogilvy referred calls to the marketer.

Mr. Ryan had been chief marketing officer at McDonald’s for two years. There, he invited Ogilvy, a non-roster shop, to pitch advertising duties for his pet project, the McDonald’s with the Diner Inside test concept, but eventually awarded the work to Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide. At McDonald’s Mr. Ryan pioneered a 40-item New Tastes Menu that introduced limited-time offers on a rotating basis.

Off the wall
Quiznos has a history of using off-the-wall creative that often is polarizing within the mass market. Baby Bob (who incidentally is played by a girl) has ranked among the top 10 best-liked spots five times across seven executions since his debut, according to Advertising Age and IAG’s Top Spots rankings. Its highest rank was fourth. However, some viewers criticized the sexual tension between the baby and some of his sexy female co-stars in the ads.

Baby Bob replaced the Quiznos Spongmonkeys, a controversial campaign created by Interpublic Group of Cos.’ Martin Agency, Richmond, Va. The chain earlier used Cliff Freeman & Partners, New York, which created spots showing a man suckling a wolf.

Quiznos continues to grow and had been cutting into sales at Subway until that chain introduced its own version of toasted subs. Subway has more than 19,000 restaurants in the U.S. compared to 3,500 Quiznos units.

Contributing: Jim Arndorfer and Matthew Creamer

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