NEW TGI FRIDAY'S TV EFFORT 'FREEZES' ON SPECIAL MOMENTS: CASUAL-DINING CHAIN FOCUSES ON A FUN VISIT

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TGI Friday's seeks to break through the clutter of TV ads for casual-dining chains with a new spot that uses the "frozen moment" creative technique.

The 30-second commercial, from longtime agency Publicis, Dallas, starts running today on network TV, and is slated to run for a year.

Spending for next year is expected to top $15 million; the spot will be recut to freshen the message and accommodate mentions of different promotions throughout the year.

The effort is an evolution of the chain's 3-year-old campaign that contrasted harried life on the outside with the fun times and conviviality of a visit inside Friday's. While the theme line remains the same -- "In here, it's always Friday" -- the action now unfolds only inside the restaurant.

"Instead of talking about how bad it is in the real world, we decided to talk about what makes us an in-here moment," said Tom Koenigsberg, VP-marketing.

"We have some really strong attributes, some little moments that make for a bigger, wonderful experience," he said. "The new creative was about identifying those moments and sharing them and saying this is part of the deal."

Blues artist John Lee Hooker provides background music with his song "Boom Boom."

"Our goal was to contemporize the brand and make it more fun," said Richard Schiera, Publicis' group creative director.

The spot was tested in six markets, including Dallas, Minneapolis and Orlando.

The chain also is running a separate batch of commercials exclusively on cable TV's ESPN. Those spots kicked off this fall and will run through the spring; five 13-second spots feature ESPN SportsCenter anchors Dan Patrick and Kenny Mayne.

SITTING OUT LATEST TREND

For now, the chain is sitting out direct sports sponsorships, increasingly popular for the casual-dining restaurant segment.

"ESPN is about as endorsement- or sponsorship-oriented as we will be for the near term," Mr. Koenigsberg said.

The new advertising comes as the chain's parent, Carlson Restaurants Worldwide, readies an initial public offering of stock.

Friday's is the sixth-largest chain in the estimated $50 billion casual-dining

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