Adweek reported on the shootout results for what is arguably the most sought-after account ever: Golden Corral. Why, what White advertising agency wouldn’t kill for the chance to continue the breakthrough creative excellence the restaurant has established over the years? The competition featured White ad agencies Merkley + Partners, Mullen and ultimate victor VIA, undoubtedly staging a buffet battle worthy of spotlighting on AMC series The Pitch. VIA appears to be the stereotypical predominately White shop with experience producing painfully mediocre restaurant campaigns—a perfect match to serve and take orders from Golden Corral.
Golden Corral Finds Its Lead Agency in Maine
The VIA Agency prevails in 3-horse race
By Andrew McMains
Golden Corral has completed its search.
The VIA Agency is the new lead creative agency for the casual dining chain, according to sources. The independent shop in Portland, Maine, prevailed in a pitch against two other finalists: Merkley + Partners in New York and Mullen in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Golden Corral, which has more than 500 restaurants in 40 states, spent about $55 million in media last year, according to Kantar Media.
Recently, the casual dining chain has used freelancers and produced ads in house. So the hiring of a lead agency represents a shift in strategy as the brand looks to rebound from softness in sales.
Golden Corral could not immediately be reached, but sources said the contenders had been told of the decision.
VIA’s previous restaurant clients include Friendly’s and Romano’s Macaroni Grill.
The selection comes amid a flurry of fast-casual reviews, including creative searches for Panera Bread and Buffalo Wild Wings and a media search for Bloomin’ Brands, whose mainstay is Outback Steakhouse. Panera and Buffalo Wild Wings hired Anomaly and TBWA\Chiat\Day, respectively; the Bloomin’ search continues but is expected to be completed soon.