Major Loss for IPG's Suissa Miller, Six-Year Incumbent

By Published on .

CHICAGO ( -- Boston Market Corp. said it awarded its $35 million advertising account to Arnold Worldwide, Boston, following a brief review.

The Havas-owned shop beat out independent Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., and the incumbent agency, Interpublic Group of Cos.' Suissa Miller, Los Angeles, according to executives with knowledge of the pitch.

Major loss
The loss is a blow to Suissa Miller, which had hung on to the account for six years even after the marketer experimented with a virtual agency and split duties between three shops.

Boston Market officials would not comment on who participated in the pitch. The Golden, Colo.-based "fast-casual" chain is owned by McDonald's Corp.

Start work immediately
Arnold will begin work immediately on the 2003 marketing calendar and will most likely advance the current advertising theme of "Slow Down" to better reinforce the chain as a leader in the fast-casual dining arena.

"Our goal is to come out in 2003 with a strong, fresh and integrated approach in driving up their brand image and sales," said Francis J. Kelly III, president-chief operating officer at the Boston agency. Mr. Kelly wouldn't elaborate on how the work

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would look when it breaks during the first quarter: "In our research we found some great strengths and we want to sell those strengths aggressively."

Fell into bankruptcy
When the 650-unit chain began as Boston Chicken, it was among the first in the fast-casual niche, a spokeswoman said. Then the chain foundered and fell into bankruptcy.

"When we were in bankruptcy, there obviously was not money to put toward aesthetics, and as a result we lost a little ground," she said. "Now we've come out of that and are profitable and growing, and we now have the resources to bring to bear to propel ourselves forward."

Under McDonald's ownership, the chain began remodeling stores and updating its menu, but other chains such as Panera Bread and Brinker International's Corner Bakery have led the growth in the segment, taking market share away from Boston Market.

"We want to retake that leadership position we once had," said Trey Hall, the chain's senior vice president and chief marketing officer. "Everything is working in concert to re-establish us there."

Separate agency team
Arnold will use a separate agency team from the team currently serving McDonald's co-ops. Managing the account will be John Petruney, senior vice president and group creative director, and Bill McMullen, senior vice president and group account director, who also manages the agency's Volkswagen of America account.

"This is the 10th or 11th win this year across four offices," Arnold's Mr. Kelly said. "We've been having a pretty good year."

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