David & Goliath Wins $100M Carl's Jr. and Hardee's Business

Switch From Mendelsohn Zien Precipitated by Departure of Top Creatives, Buyout of CKE

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- David & Goliath, Los Angeles, has been named the new agency of record for CKE Restaurants, the parent of fast food chains Carl's Jr. and Hardee's. The move -- a blow to longtime incumbent shop Mendelsohn Zien -- comes after a review the marketer launched in October.

The move comes as a blow to longtime incumbent shop Mendelsohn Zien, which created seductive ads for Carl's Jr. featuring the likes of Padma Lakshmi.
The move comes as a blow to longtime incumbent shop Mendelsohn Zien, which created seductive ads for Carl's Jr. featuring the likes of Padma Lakshmi.
"David & Goliath really seemed to understand the core of our brands' image and attitude, and that came through clearly in the pitch," Brad Haley, exec VP-marketing for CKE, said in a statement. "While they presented a fresh new way to portray Carl's Jr. and Hardee's in our marketing communications, they retained the edginess and risk-taking that we have become famous for over the years."

Said David Angelo, chief creative at David & Goliath: "We love to take on Goliath-sized challenges, and no industry is more of a challenge than the QSR category. We can't wait to get to work."

Carpinteria, Calif.-based CKE, which has more than 3,100 restaurants in 42 states and 18 countries, held what it called an "invitation-only review," asking four West Coast agencies to participate: Mendelsohn Zien; digital incumbent 72&Sunny; Interpublic Group of Cos.' Deutsch, which declined to participate; and David & Goliath. Interpublic's Carmichael Lynch and Omnicom's GSD&M Idea City were added to the review in early December.

According to people familiar with the matter, the decision to reach out to new shops was sparked by the departure two top creatives on the account from Mendelsohn Zien, which is owned by Hakuhodo DY Media Holdings. It also follows the private-equity buyout of CKE to Apollo Management in an estimated $1 billion deal.

The loss of two major restaurant brands is not only a major revenue hit for Mendelsohn Zien, it also means the end of two longstanding relationships. The agency had worked with Hardee's for nine years and Carl's Jr. for the past 16 years; for the latter it created seductive ads for featuring the likes of Padma Lakshmi and Kim Kardashian. Mendelsohn Zien could be immediately reached for comment.

David & Goliath will be responsible for all traditional creative work, with a focus on TV. 72andSunny -- which was recently got investment from Toronto-based MDC Partners -- will continue as digital agency of record. Media duties, which are handled by the Interpublic's Initiative, were not affected by the review.

The combined budgets for both restaurant chains in 2009 was $58 million in domestic measured media, according to Kantar, and 2010 spending was similar. That number appears to be on the rise though; a statement today by CKE and David & Goliath estimated spending for both chains at $100 million.

At David & Goliath, Hardee's joins a roster at the 11-year-old shop that includes Kia Motors, Bacardi, MGM Resorts and the California Lottery. New work for Carl's Jr. and Hardee's is tentatively scheduled to launch in the spring of 2011.

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Contributing: Maureen Morrison

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