Kids Take Over Friendly's

March 26, 2008 // Franchising.com // WILBRAHAM, Mass.- One of America's leading family restaurant companies today announced a takeover -- a friendly takeover.

From the menu to advertising to POP, Friendly's Restaurants is putting kids in charge at its 507 restaurants starting March 24.

That's when Friendly's launches a new, kid-centric campaign in which every element looks, sounds and feels like real kids created it. That's not surprising. Considering the well known, kid-focused brand spent hours talking with its kid customers about what they'd do if they ran the show at their local Friendly's restaurant.

"Friendly's is a true family brand and this is Friendly's according to kids," said Skip Weldon, Vice President of Marketing for Friendly's. "Working with Zimmerman Advertising, we have designed an entire marketing program with one thought: what if kids came in and took over a Friendly's? What would they cook up in the kitchen? What would the menu look like? How about advertising? How about a kids website?"

The result is a brand new and completely kid-focused experience with the theme "I wanna go to Friendly's."

Menu Puts Kids in Charge

The new My Friendly's Kids Menu is designed like the composition books that 6 to 12 year olds love to write in, complete with handwritten headlines, notes and doodles. Separate pages feature menus for both smaller and bigger appetites; special breakfast choices are on the back.

Kids are invited to choose their My Friendly's Meal by picking a drink, main meal and dessert, all shown with colorful photos that make it easier for kids to make the right choice. The brand new selections include cheeseburger sliders and chicken sliders, both served in a tall wire basket with mini dishes of condiments at the base so that kids can finish off the dish to their own taste. Back by popular demand are favorites like Dippin' Chicken and Friendly Franks and kid-approved Better for You sides like mandarin oranges and mixed vegetables.

Two new desserts had huge kids appeal in market testing, according to Weldon. The Build Your Own Sundae choice enables kids to pick three scoops of ice cream with whipped topping and a cherry and three additional toppings--from hot fudge to Reese's Pieces®--served in small soufflé dishes around the base of the bowl so they can customize their dessert as they eat it.

"Our Build Your Own Sundae really puts kids in charge," said Weldon. "They absolutely loved the idea of being able to finish their meal with the perfect sundae that they design and top it off just the way they like it -- right there at the table."

The Birthday Cake Friend-Z® combines vanilla soft serve, frosting, sprinkles and pound cake for the ultimate "anytime" celebration.

Scaling a Giant Sundae

An 'inside-out' marketing approach begins in restaurant with the new menu and fun door/window clings. The advertising campaign, created by Zimmerman Advertising of Fort Lauderdale, FL, Friendly's ad agency since January, will drive awareness of the menu. In a fast-paced television spot that combines stop-motion animation and pulsating music, four spirited kids sneak into a Friendly's late at night, take over the kitchen and "make the menu right." In true kids' fantasy, the youngsters toss giant pieces of crispy chicken, pluck the cherry from a towering glass of Royal Razz soft drink and scale a mountainous ice cream sundae.

The spots will air on channels like Nickelodeon and ABC Family starting on March 24. A micro site was also created, iwannagotofriendlys.com as a place where kids can go and have fun - - from building their own sundaes to downloading ring tones. An in-cinema campaign will feature the ads just before the movies and Friendly's will offer in-theater coupons in select markets.

Friendly's is also testing mobile billboards -- which warn that the "driver carries no ice cream" -- to highlight the new menu and the "I wanna go to Friendly's" theme. Test markets are Albany, N.Y., Hartford, Conn., Springfield, Mass., and Sarasota, Fla.

Development of Program

The launch of Friendly's new kids menu was developed in accordance with the company's marketing principles and in particular, its "Children's Marketing Policy Guidelines." "We understand that there is an appropriate balance that needs to be struck with programs like ours - promoting the Friendly's brand and value proposition to our customers, while ensuring that it is done in the most responsible and careful manner for this audience," said Weldon. "This marketing program takes into full consideration industry best-practices and elements of The Children's Advertising Review Unit's (CARU) Self-Regulatory Program for Children's Advertising (<http://www.caru.org/guidelines/index.asp)>."

Friendly's kids menu has been named the best in America among family restaurants by Restaurant Hospitality Magazine three times, including 2007, the magazine's most recent awards.

Friendly Ice Cream Corporation is a vertically integrated restaurant company serving signature sandwiches, entrees and ice cream desserts in a friendly, family environment in over 505 company and franchised restaurants throughout the Northeast. The Company also manufactures ice cream, which is distributed through more than 4,000 supermarkets and other retail locations. With a 72-year operating history, Friendly's enjoys strong brand recognition and is currently remodeling its restaurants and introducing new products to grow its customer base. Additional information on Friendly Ice Cream Corporation can be found on the Company's website (www.friendlys.com

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