The list of major burger-restaurant that don’t advertise on TV is short. It used to include Ted’s Montana Grill, the 44-unit, Atlanta-based casual-dining concept but the chain, which opened its first restaurant in 2002, now has filmed its first TV spot for use in selected markets.
The 30-second spot mixes a bit of cowboy swagger, the requisite scene of the bison that set its menu apart and glimpses of young adults enjoying food and drink. “This is Ted’s territory,” the voice-over to the spot, titled “Scrapbook,” intones. “Inspired by the Big Sky spirit. And where you’ll know after your first bite that it’s something you’ll find only at Ted’s.” Along with distinctiveness, the message here is “authentic.” The word briefly flashes on the screen early on and returns at the close as part of the tagline, “Authentic American Dining.”
Airing a new TV spot is Nashville-based Back Yard Burgers. Since filing for bankruptcy protection last October, the chain has slimmed down to 83 units in 20 states by closing a number of underperforming locations. In January it brought in a new CEO, David McDougall, whose past experience includes a stint as SVP for QSR operations for Atlanta-based holding company NexCen Brands, which franchises Marble Slab Creamery and other brands.
Back Yard Burger’s new TV spot supports the introduction of its new “Bigger, Better Burger,” a one-third-pound chargrilled Black Angus beef burger touted as being thicker and juicier. Available toppings for the bigger burger are American, Swiss, Cheddar, or Pepper-Jack cheeses; coleslaw, chili, bacon, sautéed mushrooms and jalapeňos. The chain has said it intends to rebuild the brand by focusing on premium-tier menu items, reportedly including items such as tortilla-encrusted tilapia sandwiches. At company-operated units the chain is reintroducing Classic Seasoned Fries, which previously had been removed from the menu. “We plan to reconnect and go back to our roots on those things that have made Back Yard Burgers great,” McDougall told the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
Another regional burger chain, 39-unit Good Times Burgers & Frozen Custard, is airing its first new TV commercials in three years. The Golden, Colo.-based chain was hard hit by the recession and same-store sales tumbled sharply in 2008. It has worked since then to regain its strength and has done so effectively: same-store sales were up 6.2% in 2011 and up 3.2% last year.
The strategy has been to emphasize its position as a high-quality QSR with all-natural Angus beef burgers, fresh-cut fries, fresh frozen custard, etc. In 2012’s fourth quarter, the chain began testing a new chicken platform of all-natural, hand-breaded chicken tenders sourced from Springer Mountain Farms in Mt. Airy, Ga.
Good Times is rolling out the chicken—as both tenders and a chicken sandwich—systemwide now, supported by animated TV spots from agency Stamen Pistil Advertising & Design in Evergreen, Colo. The spots stress that Good Times went all the way to Georgia (in a VW Bus, apparently) to find the best natural, anti-biotic-free chicken it could find. “Happiness made to order” continues as Good Times’ marketing tagline.