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Schlotzsky's Deli jumps onto network TV for the first time today, with a $14 million ad campaign that pokes fun at food cravings.

The brand-building effort, from McGarrah/Jessee, Austin, Texas, is backed by an additional $6 million in local TV, radio and print advertising.

The branding effort includes four 15-second commercials that show individuals so distracted by their cravings for a Schlotzsky's New Orleans-style sandwich that they can't carry out a task at hand. The campaign is dubbed "The Schlotzsky's Zone."


In one TV spot, an orchestra conductor is frozen in a reverie about Schlotzsky's and can't move his baton. That's bad news for a female bassoonist, who faints while trying to hold her note. In another, a father dreams of Schlotzsky's as he pushes his son in a swing. He's so fixated the swing thwacks him on the head with every push.

The spots also carry the chain's long-running theme line, "Funny name. Serious sandwich."

Schlotzsky's operates 750 restaurants in 38 states and the District of Columbia, and positions itself as a cut above fast-food. Its signature product is its Original sandwich, made from three meats, three cheeses and toppings, and served on sourdough bread baked from scratch daily.

The menu also includes pizza, salads, soups and Schlotzsky's branded accoutrements, including chips and bottled water.


Network TV makes sense as the company continues a growth spurt, said Lee Applbaum, director of marketing.

"We have sufficient restaurant density at this point," he said. "We are committed to a long-term network strategy."

Schlotzsky's opened 107 new units last year, and posted a 3.1% increase in same-store sales.

This is McGarrah/Jessee's first work for Schlotzsky's, having been named its first shop in January, following a review. Media buying is handled by Western Initiative Media's Chicago office.

Agency Principal Mark McGarrah said Schlotzsky's food inspires intense cravings, noting one customer convinced a franchisee to accept a used van in exchange for a year's worth of Schlotzsky's meals.

"It's one of these tastes that is not like anything else," Mr. McGarrah said. "It gets on your mind and you have to have it."

He said various ad themes were considered before the decision was made to stick with the original.

"This is serious stuff. But with a name like this, you have to have fun," he said.

The commercials will run for four weeks, and return for two more flights in July and October. The spot TV schedule will include :30s with 10-seconds devoted to promotional offers.

The network launch coincides with the chain's introduction of bundled meals,

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