Krystal's clear position: soothing

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Krystal restaurants position themselves as the fast-food equivalent to Prozac in a $15 million to $18 million campaign that breaks today.

Four TV spots anchor the campaign, which encourages Southerners to take comfort in food by buying bundles of burgers. The spots feature people in various stages of distress as a Krystal Meter shows, on a scale of 1 to 10, how many burgers are needed to soothe their anxiety.

One spot features a man at a Krystal restaurant counter. As voice-over begins, "Today is your day," the Krystal Meter arrow slides to a 4. Voice-over continues, "The cute girl at work finally spoke to you," which pushes the meter to 7. The kicker is that the girl said, "Cleanup on Aisle 12," sending the meter to 10.


Each spot ends with the company's continuing theme line, "Krystals. Fresh, hot, small, square," and the campaign tag, "How many Krystals do you need?"

While the current ads show people seeking solace, future work also might show the meter rising on happy occasions, said Mark Oakley, creative director at Krystal agency McKinney & Silver, Raleigh, N.C.

The TV, radio and outdoor effort will run in 16 southeastern U.S. markets from Knoxville, Tenn., to Jacksonville, Fla., where the chain's 388 units operate in 11 states. Krystal is planning an aggressive growth campaign and is opening 50 restaurants this year, said Gordon Davenport, VP-marketing and development at Krystal.

The privately held chain had 1999 sales of $345 million, according to restaurant consultancy Technomic, which ranks it as the country's No. 11 burger brand.

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