San Francisco Ad Agency Used to Be Gardner, Geary Coll

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SAN FRANCISCO ( -- Out of bankruptcy and under new ownership, "fresh Mex" restaurant chain Chevys has named Maiden Lane of San Francisco its advertising agency following a review.
Acquired for $90 million, Chevys restaurant chain is buying advertising once again.

The win was the first for the shop, formerly Gardner Geary Coll, since it changed its name to Maiden Lane this summer. Other contenders in the review included Amazon Advertising and Eleven, both San Francisco.

$90 million acquisition
Chevys invented the "fresh Mex" genre in a quirky ad campaign by Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco. But by October 2003, the chain, then owned by J.W. Childs Equity Partners of Boston, filed for bankruptcy reorganization. In January, Real Mex Restaurants of Long Beach, Calif., acquired Chevys for more than $90 million. The chain has about 100 Chevys Fresh Mex restaurants, primarily in California and the Western U.S. and nine Fuzio Universal Pasta concept restaurants.

Ad account billings were undisclosed, but initial work will include an outdoor and radio campaign in San Francisco and Sacramento. Executions, which are tagged "Viva La Fiesta" and are part of a campaign called "Fiestology," are expected to roll out to the 16 states where the stores are located.

'Entire customer experience'
"We loved [Maiden Lane's] thinking, which focused on branding and the entire customer experience from the parking lot to paying the check," said Julie Koenig-Browne, vice president of marketing. Chevys has made a number of changes to its menu, including a guacamole prepared to order at the table and house margaritas with Cuervo Gold tequila.

Maiden Lane is the new name of the agency formerly known as Gardner Geary Coll. President Bob Gardner and other principals of Gardner Geary Coll remain at the agency, which has added three key executives: John Maxham, chief creative officer; Christine Huang, chief marketing officer; and Doug Powell, Media director. The new additions are the reason the agency changed its name.

Other clients include The San Francisco Examiner Delta Dental and Stri-Dex.

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