MELVILLE, NY: A year after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Italian quick service restaurant chain Sbarro has named Fishman Public Relations its AOR after an RFP.
The other finalists in the review were Emanate, SPM Communications, and Mason Communications, said Mark Censoprano, CMO of Sbarro. In the past, the company “has had relationships with a few different firms” on project work, but Fishman is Sbarro's first AOR, he said.
Censoprano said the company selected Fishman because of its experience with restaurants and franchises. He added that Sbarro CEO James Greco has a vision for the company to become “the preeminent fast-casual Italian restaurant concept,” and Fishman will help it reach that goal.
“It's all about changing perception,” Censoprano said. “If you look at what the news has been for the past year, it hasn't been all positive communication, so Fishman is coming on board to change people's perception.”
In April 2011, Sbarro filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Sard Verbinnen & Co. handled crisis communications for its Chapter 11 filing.
The short-term, 100-day plan for Sbarro will focus on changing the “look and feel” of 10 Sbarro restaurants around the country, said Censoprano. The changes will include modern design, different equipment, new pizza recipes, pasta made-to-order, and employee training programs, he added.
Fishman will handle event coordination, management, and execution for the 10 restaurants, nine of which will be in malls, said Debra Vilchis, COO at the agency. The firm will reach out to national press, as well as restaurant and franchise trade publications, to get the word out about Sbarro's restaurant moderations, she said, adding that Fishman will work to restore confidence in the brand among vendors, employees, franchisees, and investors.
Another task for Fishman will be to build “a social media presence and social media strategy” for Sbarro, said Vilchis. She added that up to three staffers will work on event management, three will handle social media, and four employees will focus on media relations.