BOSTON MARKET SHIFTS BILLINGS TO SUISSA MILLER

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Boston Market, which just 18 months ago touted a multiple-agency "virtual advertising plan," appears to be close to handing the bulk of its account to Suissa Miller, Los Angeles.

Goldberg Moser O'Neill, San Francisco, which once had billings as high as $45 million, is expected to keep some project work.

The win would bring Suissa to $260 million in billings. Boston Market spent $90 million on advertising in 1996, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

The restaurant chain last week said it continues to work with both agencies but would not discuss specific assignments.

HAD USED THREE AGENCIES

Under the original plan, the 1,160-unit chain divided creative among three agencies, each to devise a campaign for individual products. Suissa handled Boston Carver sandwiches while Goldberg backed the main business. Team One, El Segundo, Calif., handled holiday products, such as Hearth Honey Hams and summer picnic specials.

The work of the three agencies, which mostly produced ads with their own themes and creative styles, was to be coordinated by the marketer acting as its own "virtual agency," also supervising other specialty shops ranging from field service offices to media buyers.

In May, parent Boston Chicken's Co-Chairman-CEO Scott Beck took control of Boston Market, saying the chain had been losing market share because of its focus on lunch. A number of key executives, including Bill McDonald, chief marketing officer, left the company (AA, June 2).

TEAM ONE DROPPED

Boston Market subsequently dropped Team One from its roster, and staged a creative and strategic shootout between Suissa and Goldberg.

Goldberg handled $45 million to $50 million in spending, having produced a campaign for the 38-state chain's home meal replacement menu, tagged "Don't mess with dinner." Ads featured a mom who protected mealtime by setting wild animals on solicitors or blowing up a coach who prolonged children's practice.

Goldberg also produced a TV campaign for kids' meals.

Suissa's Boston Carver campaign starred ESPN sportscaster Keith Olbermann appearing with emaciated models talking about the emptiness they feel inside. His suggestion: "Here's a tip. Eat something."

Goldberg will continue as agency for Einstein Bros. Bagels' Einstein/Noah Bagel Corp. with billings estimated at $10 million. Einstein Bros. previously was a unit of Boston Market, but has since had an initial public offering.

Fred Goldberg, president-CEO of Goldberg Moser, said his company continues to handle projects for Boston Market. Suissa executives did not return phone calls at deadline.

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