Diana Marszalek 20 Mar 2019 // 11:53PM GMT
WILBRAHAM, MA— Looking to step up its revival after bankruptcy, the East Coast restaurant chain Friendly’s has handed its PR business to LAK Public Relations as part of a larger revamp of its agency partnerships.
New York-based LAK is charged with helping reinvigorate the 84-year-old brand, which has been in midst of a major overhaul since emerging from a 2011 bankruptcy brought on by factors from changing consumer tastes to the rising price of commodities like corn.
LAK, which represents Hostess Brands, in 2013 led PR surrounding that brand’s post-bankruptcy ‘Sweetest Comeback’ campaign. Boston-based Regan Communications Group and the digital agency Netplus have been among Friendly's recent agency partners.
Friendly’s has also hired two other agencies to work with its existing ad agency, Cam Media, in its rebranding efforts. They are The Fantastical, a Boston-based advertising agency, and HYFN, a digital and creative agency that is also Boston based.
“While the Friendly’s brand has long enjoyed a special place in the hearts of consumers, our charge is to infuse a new energy so that it not only remains relevant with existing audiences but also resonates with new generations of patrons,” said CEO George Michel. “This outstanding group of agency partners brings significant experience working with brands during transformational periods. I’m deeply encouraged by the level of enthusiasm and expertise each brings, especially on a collective, collaborative level.”
That effort has been in full-force since Friendly’s bankruptcy, during which the number of restaurants dropped to roughly 250 from a high of 500-plus in the mid-70’s. In addition to making its restaurants more inviting, and simplifying its menu so that it aligns with its diner-style roots, Friendly’s also has started to replace its shuttered restaurants with new locations, as well as buying back franchises.
In 2016, the company sold its hallmark ice cream business (Friendly’s started with the opening of a Springfield, Massachusetts ice cream shop at the height of the Great Depression) to Dean Foods for $155m.