Friendly's Launches a High-Energy, High-Five Effort

Push to Interact With Customers Is Backed by Ads, New Mascot

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If you're the sort of person who gets annoyed when servers sing "Happy Birthday" to a patron or break into a line dance, you might want to avoid Friendly's.

Believing that most chains "don't display enough energy," Harsha Agadi, chairman-CEO of the East Coast ice-cream chain, is ramping up "a super aggressive and extremely simple" campaign to "get to the energy level like that of a high-school football game."

Outdoor is part of Friendly's effort to hand out a trillion high-fives. Employees, we hope, must wash hands.
Outdoor is part of Friendly's effort to hand out a trillion high-fives. Employees, we hope, must wash hands.
So Friendly's is pledging to give away a trillion high-fives. Employees will high-five customers and other employees, and the chain's mascot will be a character called High 5 Heidi.

The push begins with teaser ads this week and a full-blown launch Sept. 19. The ads, developed by Via Agency (KSL Media, New York, is handling media buying), feature Mr. Agadi as well as the new brand mascot. Additional components to the campaign include billboards, events and a mobile app.

The reasoning is that Friendly's main constituency -- families -- will appreciate the personal touch.

In some ads, Mr. Agadi observes people in various situations where high fives occur. In another, he is in the boardroom with Friendly's executives, asking them to brainstorm ideas for how to promote a High Five menu (with, naturally, five items priced at $5). Heidi suggests giving a way a million high fives, and Mr. Agadi responds with, "That's brilliant! How about a trillion?"

John Coleman, CEO of Via, said Heidi is a cross between Progressive 's Flo and comedian Amy Poehler. "We thought she'd be a great way to illustrate how the employees should be," he said, jokingly adding, "She's really enthusiastic, sometimes too much."

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