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Fledgling chicken chain Ranch 1 is seeking its first ad agency as part of an ambitious expansion plan.

The chain, backed by one of the original owners of Boston Chicken, wants to open 1,000 outlets in the next five years.

Ranch 1's plan is to hire a shop by the end of March and be on the air with a local TV campaign by June 1.

Spending on the account is estimated at $2 million this year, with increases expected to keep pace with unit expansion. Media planning and buying will continue to be handled by TD Advertising, New York.

The agency search is being handled in-house; the chain declined to say which agencies it has targeted, but said it is seeking a shop that knows the fast-food industry.


Ranch 1 currently has 22 fast-food restaurants in the New York area, with 10 more slated to open by June 1, including the first unit in Washington. It has been a local sponsor on shock jock Howard Stern's radio show for the past year, and plans to continue that as the chain grows.

"We've enjoyed a very great relationship with him," said Andy Howard, VP-marketing for Ranch 1. "Our demographics are 25 to 49 -- the adult, somewhat higher-educated consumer. He's been very effective for us."

Ranch 1's core product is billed as "the best grilled chicken sandwich on earth." Some 80% of its business is at lunch, with an emphasis on quick service and quality food.

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