Phelps Group, a Santa Monica PR and ad agency, landed a client thanks to an acquisition last year.

The client, zPizza in Irvine, is a chain of franchised fast-food restaurants that sell gourmet and organic pizzas for health-conscious eaters. The company was looking for an agency to reposition its brand, and Phelps’ purchase in December 2009 of Copia Creative, a boutique specializing in rebranding campaigns, sealed the deal.

Michelle Adelson, vice president of creative and brand strategy at Phelps, said the firm already handles local PR for Panera Bread, an upscale food brand similar to zPizza, but Copia brought along crucial repositioning expertise.

Previous zPizza advertising relied on coupons and direct mail, tactics that appealed to price-conscious consumers. The new Phelps strategy will focus instead on reaching the health-conscious.

The campaign, “Pure Pizza Revolution,” will launch before the end of December. Phelps will redesign the menu, product packaging, store interiors, promotional materials and website. New uniforms will feature red berets and aprons.

The campaign will include teams handing out promotional offers on streets and in malls, as well as social media and traditional PR. It will not involve paid advertising.

“We have a proven brand-strategy approach where we look at research on how we can differentiate our brand from the competition,” Adelson said. “The studies point to an increased trend toward healthy eating. ZPizza has a great story to tell, but not everyone has heard it yet.”

ZPizza has 90 franchised locations in the U.S., with about 40 in Southern California.

Triple Threat

In a bid to cross-sell their businesses, three boutique PR agencies in Hollywood have combined to form a partnership.

Evolutionary Media Group, Period Media and Platform Media Group will each retain their current names, but will form a group called the Communications Partnership.

Although each agency has a different expertise and client base, the companies anticipate working together for the same clients in the future. For example, Platform and Evolutionary jointly promoted a fundraising dinner for the Datsun Heritage Museum last month.

“We all have extensive automotive experience we can share when one division signs an auto project,” said Jennifer Gross, a principal at Evolutionary, in a statement.

For now, there’s little overlap in term of clientele among the partners. Evolutionary focuses on entertainment-related PR for hospitality, music, non-profit and art clients, including the Annenberg Foundation and artist Shepard Fairey. Platform concentrates on food, beverage, movies and media campaigns for clients that include Blue Angel Spirits, Koloa Rum, American Film Institute and Neoclassics Films. Period is a PR firm specializing in fashion and entertainment. Clients include Pacific Design Center, actor Ray Liotta and fashion designer David Meister.

All three agencies are at 1111 N. Las Palmas Ave. in Hollywood.

‘Rich Fan’

After three weeks and more than 170,000 mouse clicks, Secret Weapon Marketing’s sweepstakes on behalf of client Jack-in-the-Box has a winner.

The “Be a Rich Fan” contest was designed by West L.A.-based Secret Weapon to increase the number of Facebook friends of fictional chief executive Jack. To accomplish that, the prize amount increased by a nickel each time somebody introduced a new friend to Jack.

Jack now has more than 283,000 friends, a 280 percent increase since the contest started in early October.

David Hughes from Hickory, N.C., was randomly selected the winner and took home the prize of $11,533.35.

“This was a campaign to celebrate Jack’s popularity and share some of his wealth,” said Dick Sittig, the Secret Weapon founder who has handled Jack’s advertising for 15 years.

Agencies & Accounts

Haamonii shochu, a low-calorie Japanese liquor, has hired L.A. agency StoreFront Digital to manage its “Share Haamonii” campaign for the holidays. The agency will feed content to Haamonii’s Facebook page as well as promote and supervise tasting events in West Hollywood, San Francisco and New York. … Cie Studios, a Long Beach company that develops online and mobile applications for advertising campaigns, has named Edward Yu as president. Yu previously held executive positions at Saatchi & Saatchi, Doner and RPA in Santa Monica. Justin Choi, Cie’s chief executive, said in a statement that Yu’s new responsibility is to help Cie clients use web, mobile and social apps to connect with their customers. … AWJ Platinum, a Beverly Hills PR firm specializing in entertainment publicity, has signed rapper B. Taylor as a client. … MediaPoint Network, a media-buying subsidiary of Inter/Media Cos. in Encino, has promoted Rick Sax to senior vice president of affiliate relations. Sax will be charged with growing MediaPoint’s network of TV networks, broadcast stations, cable networks and radio syndicates. … Velocidi, a New York-based digital marketing agency, has hired Gary Goldhammer to run the L.A. office. Before joining Velocidi, Goldhammer was a senior vice president of digital strategy at PR agency Edelman. His latest book, “The Last Newspaper,” was published earlier this year. … Santa Monica ad agency Dentsu America won the 2010 Silver Award from Promax BDA for a TV commercial promoting Major League Soccer. The spot ran during the FIFA 2010 World Cup competition this summer.

Staff reporter Joel Russell can be reached at jrussell@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 237.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.