Cracker Barrel Old Country Store has chosen Dentsu as its creative and media agency of record, a win that includes strategic, creative and managing paid media.
Dentsu’s appointment was effective as of Jan. 1, Cracker Barrel announced on March 8.
The appointment of Dentsu comes after a multi-month review by the restaurant and retail chain.
Other agencies involved in the review were not disclosed, but Cracker Barrel dropped The Richards Group from the review in October following agency founder Stan Richards’ racist remarks regarding a creative idea for then-client Motel 6.
Cracker Barrel worked with Havas Chicago in recent years.
The chain is known for southern homestyle food and also sells goods such as rocking chairs.
“After a thorough search process, we selected Dentsu to serve as our agency of record based on a number of criteria, including creative approach, expertise, consumer insight and collaboration,” Jennifer Tate, senior VP and chief marketing officer at Cracker Barrel, said in a statement. “With Dentsu, I am confident we have a partner who will help us evolve and elevate our campaigns to ensure our storied brand continues to remain relevant as consumer habits and expectations for dining and shopping experiences progress.”
Cracker Barrel has more than 1,600 billboards around the country to reach travelers, who make up 40% of its business, according to its website. That reliance on travelers has hurt the business in recent months, as many people have cut back on travel due to the coronavirus pandemic. Plus, many dining rooms were closed or operating at limited capacity due to local restrictions.
“We are honored to partner with Cracker Barrel Old Country Store as they evolve their brand experience to bring craveable comfort food to the next generation of American families,” said Jon Dupuis, CEO of Dentsu Creative Americas, said in a statement.
In Cracker Barrel's fiscal second quarter, which ended January 29, comparable restaurant sales declined 21.9% and comparable retail sales fell 15.3% from the year-earlier period. Leadership expressed optimism about the second half of the fiscal year during the company’s February conference call, citing COVID-19 vaccinations and people feeling more comfortable with dining out. Also, the Tennessee-based chain has already added beer and wine at 350 locations with eventual plans to expand beer and wine service to about 600 of its 660 restaurants.