Lenny's News and Interviews

Memphis Daily News - Lenny's Boosts Image Another Notch via Fox Sports

November 02, 2007

For many Americans - especially Southerners - the typical Saturday afternoon revolves around football and food.

So it's no wonder the first large-scale consumer-brand campaign for Memphis-based Lenny's Sub Shops kicked off earlier this fall to coincide with the start of football season.

The campaign is being delivered via three of the Fox Sports Network's regional affiliates - Fox Sun, Fox Southwest and Fox South - which reach sports-crazed audiences from Florida to Texas.

Lenny's CEO George Alvord, who bought the company in 2004 from founder Len Moore, said the campaign is designed to increase brand awareness, increase store sales and increase the number of people looking to open franchises.

Alvord said he couldn't be more pleased with the decision to deal with Fox, which has a strong national and regional reputation for sports broadcasting.

"We figured we'd win all the way around from a percentage standpoint," he said. "We felt we got broader brand awareness with the Fox Sports media campaign."

Fox prints

Alvord also figured the company's quickly growing footprint needed a marketing campaign to match.

"Now that we're expanding across the United States into 18 states, and we're probably going to be in 24 states within the first six to eight months of 2008, we decided it was time to get our name out," Alvord said. "We had just done local store marketing. We'd done limited other marketing, but nothing on a more regional-type campaign."

The roughly $250,000 spent on this campaign has been validated by tangibles such as sales, which are up 4 percent from last year, and intangibles such as positive feedback from franchisees, whose customers are taking note of the commercials.

The campaign was created by Memphis-based Impact Marketing, a company that formed a decade ago, around the same time as Lenny's. The two locally owned companies joined forces in May, and this campaign is their first large project together.

Impact president and owner Patricia Chandler said targeting a sports audience fit perfectly with the Lenny's products, which are geared toward tailgating at the stadium or watching games at home.

"We wanted to be able to capture people that were excited and passionate about where they were and what they were doing, so that when they saw our Lenny's commercial, they would know that we provide that same level of passion and food," Chandler said. "Fox Sports really does that for us."

Let's play ball

The campaign covers all sports, including baseball and hockey, but this college football season - one of the most entertaining in recent years because of so many close games and upsets - has been a boon for the Lenny's product placement.

In addition to regular 30-second commercials, the brand awareness campaign is geared toward getting the Lenny's name in front of as many eyeballs as possible.

For example, Lenny's serves as the title sponsor for pre- and post-game shows, with its logo visible to viewers. Also, gamecasts regularly feature Lenny's mugs or the company's catering boxes on set.

Chandler was especially pleased during the recent Miami-Florida State game, which flashed numerous shots of legendary Florida State coach Bobby Bowden appearing next to Lenny's products.

"If we had tried to buy (placement), we couldn't have (done it better) - it was perfect," Chandler said. "We're really thrilled about the partnerships, both with Lenny's and with Fox. It seems to be a really wonderful match with everyone."

Liked for its personality

Alvord, too, is thrilled about the direction the company has taken in his first three years at the helm. He said the corporate office's youth has helped contribute to recent successes, such as the addition of franchisees.

Moreover, he is proud of the food product - and corporate image - that Lenny's presents to its customers through its "More Food, More Taste, More Personality" tagline.

"I know we got the food right; I know we got the taste right; now we've got to make sure the personality's right," Alvord said.

Additional changes are coming for Lenny's, which soon will launch a comprehensive gift-card campaign that's slated to begin in mid-November.
Also, a new point-of-sale (POS) system is being implemented company-wide that should revolutionize each restaurant's technological capabilities.

Alvord is so pleased with the system that he envisions the Lenny's POS system as a spin-off business that the company will sell to other restaurants.

Home plate

And while Alvord also keeps an eye on expansion overseas - Russia, the Middle East and China, to name a few - he is determined first to make Lenny's a household name in the U.S.

The company projects 200 Lenny's Sub Shops by the end of 2008, and Alvord is happy that the company remains dedicated to the place where it started - despite overtures from the city of Atlanta to move corporate headquarters there.

"I think that's important for Memphis, because we probably will grow to be one of the top restaurant chains in the nation and we're going to stay here in Memphis," Alvord said. "I think that slides under the radar screen once in a while. I'm proud that we're building a chain to be headquartered in Memphis."

Contact Lenny's Public Relations:

Jenna Duett
Marketing and PR Manager
(901) 753-4002