Giants & Gentlemen wins Harvey’s strategy, creative assignment

Harvey’s recent agency review was a beautiful thing for Toronto agency Giants & Gentlemen, which won the QSR brand’s strategy and creative assignment as part of a four-shop pitch that took place in December.

Chelsea Kellock, senior director of marketing at Harvey’s, said that G&G was selected on the basis of its “standout creative,” its strategic thinking and the fact that it is led by two female executive creative directors (Alanna Nathanson and Natalie Armata) possessing a “unique perspective.”

Part of the Recipe Unlimited (formerly Cara Foods) family, which also includes the Swiss Chalet, The Keg and East Side Marios brands, Harvey’s currently operates nearly 300 restaurants across Canada, including 51 in Quebec.

Kellock switched to the Harvey’s brand in December after spending the previous five years leading national marketing for sister brand Montana’s, which included rebranding the 20-year-old chain.

Steve Waugh, G&G’s vice-president, head of client services, said that the agency enjoys working with “underdogs.” While Harvey’s has a significant national footprint, it’s scale is not the same as some other well-known chains like McDonald’s and Subway, he said in an e-mail interview with The Message.

“We thrive when we can punch above our weight, and we intend to do that with Harvey’s,” said Waugh. “Harvey’s is iconic in Canada, and that’s something scale can’t easily overcome.”

Waugh said that although Harvey’s faces “enormous” competitive pressure in the crowded QSR space, it also boasts significant brand equity that G&G will look to unlock. “There is so much good choice for consumers,” he said. “Our task is to reignite the flame and leverage Harvey’s latent brand equity with consumers.” G&G’s first work for the burger chain is expected before the summer, he said.

Recipe Unlimited brought much of the advertising for its stable of brands in-house in 2016, although brands including The Keg and New York Fries have worked with external agency partners including Rethink and Juniper Park\TBWA in recent months.

“Recipe International has a good model of leveraging [its] in-house marketing resources for always-on content and more promotionally driven advertising,” said Waugh. “They call on strategy and creative shops like G&G when the brand requires something with a deeper level of thinking from teams unencumbered by the day-to-day [demands] of the business.”

G&G co-founder and chief operating officer Gino Cantalini says that Harvey’s has been placing an emphasis on “value communication” recently, but wants to switch to a brand-building approach using its “latent” equity.

“Our mandate is to figure out how to leverage that equity and Harvey’s unique points of distinction,” said Cantalini. “Beyond creative strategy, we will develop a brand campaign and promotional messaging throughout the year.”

The creative team will be led by Nathanson, G&G’s co-founder and co-chief creative officer. “This is the perfect time to create new engaging work and ignite Harvey’s brand love,” she said.

G&G has experience with the QSR and casual dining sector, including working with Sir Corp to develop brand identities and ad platform for brands including Scaddabush and Canyon Creek early in existence, expertise that eventually led to an AOR relationship with Mucho Buritto.

*This story was updated on Jan. 27.






Chris Powell