Hardee's serves up four finalists

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Hardee's Food Systems is believed to have selected a list of four finalists for its $80 million advertising account. Agencies vying for the business, said Brad Haley, chief marketing officer of the CKE Restaurants unit, are the Martin Agency, Richmond, Va.; TBWA/Chiat/Day, Playa del Rey, Calif.; and WestWayne, Atlanta.

The fourth shop said to be in the running is Cliff Freeman & Partners, New York. Neither the agency nor Mr. Haley would confirm or deny that agency's participation in the Hardee's review, which could present a conflict with the shop's current Quizno Corp.'s account.

"I'm extremely pleased with the caliber of the field," Mr. Haley said of the contenders. "We wanted a good selection of agencies and we wanted to have some within Hardee's markets because of their built-in familiarity with the customer base."

BREAKFAST AND BURGERS

He said he expects creative concepts within four to six weeks and to be on the air with new work shortly after Jan. 1.

Mr. Haley said it was premature to discuss his strategy for the No. 4 quick service food chain, but said Hardee's will exploit its more enduring brand equities, including its signature breakfast menu and Carl's Jr. burgers.

TBWA/Chiat/Day recently lost the Taco Bell Corp. account, and Freeman has had a rich fast-food advertising history with such clients as Wendy's International, Little Caesars Pizza and, most recently, Churchs Chicken. Ironically, Freeman was the agency of record on the $15 million Churchs' account when Mr. Haley, then chief marketing officer at the AFC Enterprises unit, put the chicken chain's account into review. Observers said the reason was that Freeman's ads came under fire for their edgy approach, which some found offensive to African-Americans, leaving Hardee's little choice but to suspend the work.

SEVENTH IN SEVEN

The previous agency of record for Hardee's was Johnson/

Ukropina, Irvine, Calif., the seventh Hardee's agency in as many years. In March, the agency broke a new campaign featuring singers Lou Bega, Boyz II Men, Smokey Robinson and Vonda Shephard.

Western Initiative Media Worldwide, New York, resigned its four-year media partnership with Hardee's in 94 markets in January. After that, media was split among three regional agencies: Lewis Advertising, Rocky Mount, N.C.; Keller Crescent Co., Evansville, Ind.; and Jordan Associates, Oklahoma City.

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