Franchising Ad Campaigns with Teeth
Printed in USA Today
by Nancy Rathbun Scott
Al Hornstein has a pretty good idea for an advertising campaign. It's tucked away in his desk drawer. Chances are he'll never get to use it.
"Years ago, I came up with an idea for a series of commercials," recalls MAACO's veteran public relations pro. "The commercials highlighted all the things people could do with the money saved by repainting a car at MAACO."
Hornstein was ready to run with his campaign, too. He'd hired a production company and was set to roll when a new-and, Hornstein admits, better-advertisement literally walked in off the street-a freelance advertising practitioner begging MAACO for a chance to pitch an idea. The concept was simple: problem; solution-Uh-oh, better get MAACO.
Hornstein's boss looked at him and said "What do you think?" With tears in his eyes, Hornstein admitted, this was a better idea. "My campaign is still in my desk drawer," he says.
Why is this MAACO slogan so effective? Advertising pros say the magic lies in fitting both the name of the company and the product concept into a single idea. In MAACO's case, the idea is so catchy that the company has created a series of humorous commercials around that slogan. In one, a man hands his ticket to a garage's parking attendant, then hears his tires screeching down the ramp. Even before the words are spoken, the viewer knows the famous line is coming, "Uh-oh, better get MAACO."
"For what we spend in advertising, it's probably been one of the most popular slogans around," says Hornstein.
Thumbs up for Lawn Doctor
Lawn Doctor also had their corporate identity practically walk through the door. As the story goes, one of the franchise founders, Tony Gioradano, owned a small hardware store in Matawan, NJ. In the late 1960s, he started carrying a line of products for lawn care, because there were so many new housing developments going up in the New Jersey area. Most of the people moving into the area had migrated from New York City and didn't have much experience with lawn care, so Gioradano started teaching lawn care classes on Sunday morning. At one of those classes, a local advertising executive visited the class and proclaimed Gioradano "The Lawn Doctor."
"Another customer who was working for a New York advertising company designed the thumb and gave it to Tony," says Russell Frith, Lawn Doctor's chief executive officer.
Since then, the green thumb has left its fingerprints around the country. "People recognize it all over. It symbolizes our business and we put it on everything."
In fact, the company estimates that the thumb makes a half billion impressions a year. Frith says the logos literally appear on everything the company touches - equipment, uniforms, vehicles. "It's a feel-good brand."
Toast to Quizno's
Quizno's sandwich shops-a newer franchise company that went public in 1994-also is working to built an advertising campaign around their feel-good brand. "We've really playing up the distinction of being the place to get a great, warm, oven-toasted sub," says Sue Hoover, Quizno's executive vice president for marketing.
The company launched its first national TV campaign last year by targeting cable viewers. With cable TV audiences growing, Quizno's found the targeted demographic on non-network TV a good place to invest. Quizno's ran three campaigns last year on nine cable channels, focusing on eight-week periods in February, June and August. By targeting cable TV, Quizno's reached an audience that was a little more upscale than regular broadcast viewers. "They tend to be in households that work in office parks," Hoover says. "Basically, these viewers are our customers."
Because focus groups revealed that customers savor Quizno's "toasted" quality, the company has developed 15-second spots that play off various meanings of the word. In one commercial, for example, the best man at a wedding is proposing a toast. Raising his glass, the man says "to my best friend Hank and his lovely bride" He then pauses, obviously forgetting the bride's name. As he leans over, someone whispers into his ear. The man then rises, extends his glass, and completes the toast to " his lovely bride, Shirley Stupid."
"The payoff on all the commercials is a nice shot of the sandwich coming through our oven, with the cheese bubbling and pepperoni curling up," says Hoover. The tagline announces, "If you want your sub toasted, you have to go to Quizno's."
"It's been a successful strategy for us," she says, noting that, like other franchisors, Quizno's purpose is to target and reach potential customers with a memorable message.
And-just in case somebody needs a great campaign-Al Hornstein's got one tucked away in his desk drawer.

® copyright 1999 Nancy Rathbun Scott
Do not reprint without permission