Stuffed pig pitch ploy helps to win Italian restaurant biz

MINNEAPOLIS: Kerker Marketing Communications has won a major chunk of new PR business - thanks, in no small part, to a stuffed pig.

MINNEAPOLIS: Kerker Marketing Communications has won a major chunk of new PR business - thanks, in no small part, to a stuffed pig.

MINNEAPOLIS: Kerker Marketing Communications has won a major chunk of new PR business - thanks, in no small part, to a stuffed pig.

The marketing communications firm has been named agency of record for Buca di Beppo, a large chain of Italian restaurants owned by Buca Inc.

The account means dollars 4 million in capitalized billings annually for the agency. The PR portion of that has yet to be broken out for 2001 but is expected to be substantial, since new restaurant openings are accompanied mainly by PR rather than advertising, said Jackie Singer, the Buca di Beppo account supervisor at Kerker.

Currently the restaurant chain has 51 outlets in 18 states and Washington, DC but plans 17 new ones in 2001, with a goal of operating 450 outlets.

'It is one of those crazy, zany, irreverent kind of places,' Singer said of the restaurants. Before the win, Kerker had been carrying out some project work for Buca. When given the chance to bid on becoming the company's agency of record, Kerker decided that in keeping with the restaurants' flavor, 'we had to do something crazy,' she explained.

To get the chain's attention, the agency sent its proposal to Buca in the mouth of a roasted pig delivered in a red wagon.

The pig ploy, along with work on a test project, helped to win Kerker the account. Buca sent the wagon back filled with food and wines to let the agency know it had triumphed, Singer said.

Kerker expects to have two PR people working on the account as part of an integrated team of eight to 10 people.



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