Ad Age: Steak n Shake seeking new agency

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Two years and at least two advertising agencies after ending a long-term advertising deal, Steak n Shake is reviewing pitches from agencies interested in its business, according to a report from industry publication Advertising Age.

The report, posted on adage.com this week, cited unnamed executives familiar with the review. Officials at Steak n Shake, the Indianapolis-based restaurant chain operating as a unit of Biglari Holdings Inc., did not return a call seeking comment.

Steak n Shake terminated an 18-year relationship with Indianapolis agency Young & Laramore in late 2008, after Texas investor Sardar Biglari took control of the parent company. That November, it signed a $4 million contract with The Varnson Group, a Georgia firm it fired less than three months later.

The two companies ended up in court after Steak n Shake accused Varnson of holding onto proprietary material following the split, but the case was closed in April 2010 following the advertising agency’s Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing.

Florida-based The Zimmerman Agency stepped into the breach—and still includes some Steak n Shake television commercials in its online portfolio—but Ad Age said no agency is working with the company now. A Zimmerman spokesman said the agency had no comment.

Steak n Shake, which has about 490 restaurants, has been increasing its ad spending in recent years, Ad Age said, citing statistics from WPP's Kantar Media. In 2009, the company spent $17 million, the publication said, up from $13.6 million in 2008 and $12.8 million in 2007.

In 2008, local industry experts pegged the Steak n Shake account as one of the top 10 in the state, estimating it generated a mid- to high-seven-figure sum for Young & Laramore each year.

Y&L's Steak n Shake TV ads became almost as iconic as the restaurant itself. Spots featuring sharp-tongued servers preparing hand-made hamburger patties and hand-dipped milkshakes won the ad agency myriad local and national awards.

CEO Paul Knapp said the local agency has not been invited to pursue the Steak n Shake account as part of the current review.


  • Derivative and Bland - Just like S&S
    The current crop of commercials are lousy. Look how good the same concept worked for Arby's (Oven Mitt!).

    Biglari has ruined a once great hamburger chain by cost cutting and pandering to the lowest common denominator.

    It's current menu and advertising screams "ME TOO!" instead of the little differences (that Y&L exploited expertly) that used to make it a nice change of pace fast food establishment.

  • What were they thinking?

    We live about a mile from the 116th street (Exit 5) and not only have I noticed it, but the doxie sitting on my laps has noticed it: you place your order, you turn the corner, and what do you see? Three large boards extolling different foods and quotes on them. What's wrong with this?

    It's advertising AFTER you've placed your order.

    Every time we place an order, it reminds me of "Dave" (Kevin Kline) where he's forcing his cabinet to cut money for a homeless shelter.

    One his questions has to deal with a PR campaign which is intended to make people feel good about their cars - after they own them.

    I wonder how helpful those boards would be if you were to post "Wednesday's Winning Lottery" numbers on Tuesday night. Except it was *last* Wednesday's numbers.

    If this is all it takes to be an ad agency, sign me up. And I'll charge less.
  • talking hat ???
    Seriously..?? The talking hat ad campaign came from the marketing minds of an ad agency. Must be the same group responsible for the dull witted comic strip Family Circle. I assumed Biglari came came up with this campaign in order to justify his bonus plan.
  • Pathetic
    Yeah. Zimmerman is greeeeeat. Outstanding creative: a waiter talking out of his hat... Just like the memorable brand building they've done with HHGregg since the Pearson team got the boot. Pathetic. Indianapolis creative builds companies' images, out of towners buy them, and then destroy the brands.
  • S&S no longer a Y&L type of account
    Steak & Shake today is nothing like the restaurant chain Young & Laramore created advertising for years ago. Biglari's meglomania leaves little room for true break-through advertising. Now it's all price point advertising. And - those burgers sure have gotten a lot smaller.
  • Why Not Y&L?
    I think it strange that Steak & Shake won't even give Young & Larramore the opportunity to submit a proposal. Maybe there's a business reason, but this sounds just petty, to me -- like they are ineligible because they worked for the former ownership.

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
thisissue1-092914.jpg 092914

Subscribe to IBJ
  1. On my rental property, before tax caps, I was paying $2,000/yr in property taxes. After the tax caps I'm paying $4,000/yr. How exactly am I "benefiting the most"?

  2. Nick, I too tried that new Walmart NM on Michigan a couple of weeks ago. I had the same feeling, it had good prices, but something was just off about it. I can't put my finger on what it is, but it just didn't feel right. On the plus side, it was easy to get in and out of and much less busy than a typical Walmart.

  3. @Young Hoosier - you might want to check out the Paris skyline again....it's decidedly taller than 7-8 stories http://all-that-is-interesting.com/paris-skyline-photo

  4. Are you in need of Loan or financial help?, you need a loan for your business or to solve other monetary issues. James Lewis Loan Company started offering loans with a very low interest rate of 3% for a minimum of 15 years, Interested applicants should submit their request via email (jameslewisloan@gmail.com) for immediate processing with the information listed below: Names in full:................ Address:...................... Gender:.................... Email:........................ Phone Number:....... Amount Required:... Loan Duration:....... Country:................. Occupation:.................. ================================== In acknowledgment to these details, I will send you a well calculated Terms and Conditions for the amount you require. Warm Regards, Mr James Lewis

  5. So the GOP legislature passed a bill that gave big breaks to business at the expense of Indiana families. Color us not surprised.