Checkers (fast food)

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Checkers Drive-In Restaurants, Inc.
Type Private
Industry Fast Food
Founded 1986 in Mobile, Alabama as Checkers
1985 in Louisville, Kentucky as Rally's
1999 (Merger of Checkers and Rally's)
Headquarters Tampa, Florida
Products Burgers, Hot Dogs, Chicken, Fish, Hot wings, french fries, Shakes, Soft Drinks
Owner(s) Wellspring Capital Management
Website www.checkers.com
www.rallys.com

Checkers Drive-In Restaurants, Inc. is one of the largest chains of double drive-thru restaurants in the United States. In June 2006, the company went private through a merger with Taxi Holdings Corp., an affiliate of Wellspring Capital Management, a private equity firm.

The company operates Checkers and Rally's restaurants in 28 states and the District of Columbia. They specialize in hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, and milkshakes.

History[edit]

Originally separate companies serving different geographic areas with Checkers serving the Southeast and Rally's serving the Midwest, Checkers and Rally's Hamburgers, Inc. merged in August 1999. The joint company houses its headquarters in Tampa, Florida. Checkers was founded in 1986 in Mobile, Alabama by Jim Mattei and went public in 1991. Rally's was founded in Louisville, Kentucky in 1985.[1] From 1996 to 1999, Rally's was owned by CKE Restaurants, parent company of Carl's Jr. and Hardee's.

Image[edit]

An exterior of a Rally's near New Orleans, LA

Checkers and Rally's had similar concepts, being almost exclusively drive-thru with very little seating. After the merger, Rally's began redesigning its restaurants to follow the Checkers look. Today, with the exception of a different name on the sign, Checkers and Rally's restaurants look nearly identical.

Checkers Drive-In (originally a Rally's), Taylor, Michigan
The Big Buford burger

Menu[edit]

Since at least the mid-1990s Rally's has offered a signature hamburger called the Big Buford.

Checkers and Rally's nutritional information is available through the company website.[2]

Advertising and promotions[edit]

In 1991, a then-unknown Seth Green starred in a Rally's commercial, giving life to the now-famous "cha-ching" interjection.[3]

In the late 90s, there was a series of teaser commercials that featured a Burger King burger on a rotating interior microwave oven, and it featured old R&B tracks from the 60s and 70s in the background following a bleep cue to Rally's advertising. One of the commercials even offered a chance to win a car, in which it depicted a yellow car since the yellow car version of punch buggy was a big fad during this time, a similar advertising strategy for this fad was implemented into a Taco Bell commercial with as many as 20 or 30 yellow taxicabs in one camera shot.

One of the first advertising campaigns by Checkers and Rally's featured the slogan "High Performance Human Fuel" and ran from 1999 to late 2000.

The television advertisements for that campaign were animated in a Japanimation style, and featured a woman named Holly, in pursuit of fast food. The ads were created by Crispin Porter & Bogusky[4] and illustrated by Peter Chung, who was also responsible for the animation of C.O.P.S and Ring Raiders.[5]


In September 2007, ML Rogers, LLC., a Madison Ave. advertising agency, won the advertising rights for Checkers Restaurants. They completely restructured the advertising campaign. Among one of the many changes is their new slogan, "little place. BIG TASTE." which can be seen in commercials airing since October 2007.[6]

In 2007, the chain used a character called Rap Cat, a stuffed animal cat who performs a rap song about the chain. The ad campaign became popular after it was posted on YouTube, becoming a viral video.[7] The company gave away paper bags patterned like a basketball jersey to be worn by cats, with slots to cut out for the legs and tail, and asked customers to post videos of their cat wearing it to a Rap Cat website. This received criticism from animal rights activists, though Checkers stated that the packaging was "intended only as a creative extension of our television campaign."[8][9]

Checkers Restaurants' in-house advertising and marketing team is led by Kris Miotke (Senior Director of Advertising) and Nick Riegel (Marketing & Advertising Manager).

In 2008 Checkers awarded "Vendor of the Year" awards to 3 of over 200 vendors for their help and support:[10]

Slogan history[edit]

  • 1986-1993 "Bag A Bigger Better Burger Bargain" (Checkers)
  • 1993-1995 "You've Never Had It So Good" (Checkers)
  • 1989-1997 "Well at Rally's, You Still Can"
  • 1989-1997 "Rally's Has It Right"
  • 1997-1999 "Fresh. Because we just made it."[12]
  • 1999-2000 "High performance Human Fuel"
  • 2000-2007 "You gotta eat!"
  • 2007–2011 "little place. BIG TASTE."
  • 2009-2010 "Devour the night!"
  • 2011–present "Feast On"

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://rallyscompany.com/our_story
  2. ^ "Checkers and Rally's Nutritional Information". 
  3. ^ "Snapps (Now Rally's) Commercial from 1991". YouTube. 2007-12-21. Retrieved 2013-03-03. 
  4. ^ "New Campaign: Hi-Performance, Human Fuel - Restaurant News". QSR magazine. 2000-01-12. Retrieved 2013-03-03. 
  5. ^ T.w. Siebert (2000-01-17). "Checkers, Rally's Given 'Toon Up". Adweek. Retrieved 2013-03-03. 
  6. ^ "New Advertising Campaign". 
  7. ^ Urstadt, Bryan. "How Rap Cat Made It into This Headline". New York Magazine. Retrieved 1 January 2010. 
  8. ^ Varian, Bill (20 February 2007). "Bag the cat? Uh, promo might not be good idea". St Petersburg Times. Retrieved 1 January 2010. 
  9. ^ Cebrzynski, Gregg (5 March 2007). "Checkers' Rapcat raises issue of 'edginess' in online promos". Nation's Restaurant News. Retrieved 1 January 2010. 
  10. ^ "Award Press Release". 
  11. ^ "Other Partners". 
  12. ^ "Checkers' CEO Drives Double Successes: FirstQuarter Profits and Increased Same Store Sales." All Business. 1 May 1998. 18 May 2008.

External links[edit]