Y&R, Saatchi lick chops over Burger King

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With Burger King under new owners, ad agencies including Y&R Advertising and Saatchi & Saatchi are setting their sights on the fast-feeder's $300 million account, said executives close to the agencies.

Diageo on Dec. 13 closed the sale of the fast-food chain for $1.5 billion to a consortium led by Texas Pacific Group. The sale signaled open season on the Home of the Whopper for agencies with experience and gaps in their roster for a fast-food brand.

One insider said an agency review is under way. But Rick Dow, senior VP-marketing and sales, said a review "hadn't been discussed" following the sale.

The account is currently split among various Interpublic Group of Cos. agencies, although a value-menu assignment at Deutsch recently ended. Deutsch remains on the roster through the field-marketing account.

WPP Group's Y&R has been eager to fill the void left when Yum Brands chain KFC shifted its $200 million U.S. business in late 2000 to Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, New York. Just last week, Y&R won a $32 million branding assignment for Yum restaurants in Canada (see Late News, P. 2). That could be viewed as a conflict with the U.S. Burger King account.

In addition to Y&R, former Burger King agency Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, is said to be organizing for a Burger King pitch.

A Y&R spokeswoman declined to comment. Saatchi executives could not be reached.

"Anytime a thing like this takes place, people see it as an opportunity for change," said consultant Gary Langstaff, a former Burger King marketing executive. He was skeptical that Burger King would make changes in the near term, since it signed a deal in July with Interpublic that observers believed signaled the relationship would survive a sale. At the time, Burger King denied that deal was struck with the sale in mind.

Other Burger King roster shops at Interpublic include Media First International, New York, which handles media planning and buying; Campbell-Mithun, Minneapolis; and DraftWorldwide, Chicago.

"The history of the Burger King advertising agencies is one that had always been disciplined with thorough agency reviews," said a well-placed executive close to the marketer. "It would be anticipated that the new ownership, if they were going to change agencies, would go through a review process."

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