Pizza Inn turns to new ad agency for aid: chain rocked by loss of Japhet, Chiat-Day

Pizza Inn turns to new ad agency for aid: chain rocked by loss of Japhet, Chiat-Day – Daniel Japhet

Bill Carlino

Pizza Inn turns to new ad agency for aid

DALLAS — After being broadsided by successive resignations of marketing vice president Dan Japhet and the Chiat/Day agency, 650-unit Pizza Inn is apparently stapling its advertising future on The Richards Group, its new agency of record.

Pizza Inn, which awarded its ad account to The Richards Group after Chiat/Day dropped the business, is reportedly hoping the Dallas-based firm can duplicate the success it displayed in creating campaigns for past food-service and lodging clients like Grandy’s and El Chico.

Although The Richards Group will handle Pizza Inn’s creative and marketing portions of the estimated $8 million to $10 million account, media placement will remain with Kelly, Scott & Madison, Chicago.

However, Japhet’s abrupt departure last month has forced Pizza Inn to function without a marketing director temporarily.

“I resigned because I needed a new challenge,” said Japhet, 46, who had been with Pizza Inn for three years. “I had too much responsibility and not enough authority.”

Executives at Pizza Inn declined to comment on either Japhet’s resignation or the circumstances surrounding the testy one-year relationship with Chiat/Day. David Kirwin, a company spokesman, said, “It doesn’t sound like a story we’d like to comment on.”

Japhet, also oversaw newproduct development, was instrumental in last year’s rollout of the chain’s New York-style pizza and the seven-day Italian buffet. The Italian buffet is now in 60 company stores.

“It seemed every promotion we did was treated like the “second coming,” Japhet added. “To be honest, I don’t know where they [Pizza Inn] go from here.”

Meanwhile, Jim Weinstein, Chiat/Day account management director, said his agency dropped the Pizza Inn account because the work load exceeded the contract agreement.

“We took the account on a monthly-fee basis instead of a commission and found ourselves under severe restrictions for the production budget,” Weinstein said. “As a result, we felt the work we were turning out wasn’t up to our standards.”

Chiat/Day created all Pizza Inn’s radio and TV spots, free-standing inserts, and billboard advertising.

In fact, two billboard ads highlighting the company’s Italian buffet became the only Obie Award finalists in the restaurant category. Those awards recognize excellence in outdoor advertising.

“Basically, the Pizza Inn account was unprofitable for us,” Weinstein said. “What Pizza Inn needs to do is to find an agency that can churn out a lot of work for a little cost.”

Pizza Inn, which trails segment leaders Pizza Hut, Domino’s, and Little Caesar’s, posted $334 million in sales for 1988.

COPYRIGHT 1989 Reproduced with permission of the copyright holder. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group