Cliff Freeman, Adman who asked, “Where’s the beef?”, Death at 80

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Pizza chain Little Caesars was one of the first accounts Mr. Freeman won after setting up his own agency, and it remained a reference customer for 11 years as it battled for market share against competitors like Pizza Hut and Domino’s.

“Well, you know, pizza is a fun product,” Mr. Freeman told Luerzer’s Archive, an industry magazine, in an interview in 1998. “Everyone sits down and eats pizza together, so you have to have fun when you advertise it. You certainly can’t take it seriously.

An advertisement designed by Mr. Freeman emphasized the extensibility of pizza cheese, for a burlesque effect (a baby rides wild in his high chair around the house while holding on to a slice). In another, a clumsy employee of an unnamed rival chain tries to impress a customer by contorting a pterodactyl-shaped, origami-style pizza box (highlighting his offer of a pizza and a box, per compared to two pizzas from Little Caesars for a small price).

These ads helped increase Little Caesars sales by 138% from 1988 to 1993. Nonetheless, after sales stabilized and Little Caesars considered switching ad agencies, Mr. Freeman ended the ad. association of his company with the chain in 1998.

Over the years, Mr. Freeman’s agency has won numerous Clio Awards for its advertising excellence. He won the award for commercials created for clients like Little Caesars, Philips and Outpost.com, and for a series of commercials for Fox Sports’ National Hockey League coverage that showed how basketball, bowling, billiards, and golf would be better if played more physically. , like hockey.

Neal Tiles, a marketing executive for Fox Sports, told the New York Times in 1998 that he chose Mr. Freeman’s agency because it took “strategic creative risks” on so many campaigns.

But Cliff Freeman & Partners only lasted 11 more years. Amid a recession, management turmoil and customer departures, it closed in 2009.

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