14103 Denver W Pkwy.
Golden, Colorado 80401-4086
Telephone: (303) 278-9500
Fax: (303) 216-5678
Web site: www.bostonmarket.com
NOTE: Since the initial appearance of this essay in the 1998 edition of Major Marketing Campaigns Annual, Boston Chicken Inc. changed its name to Boston Market Corp. The essay continues to refer to the company's former name, as that was the official name of the organization when the campaign was launched.
In the late 1990s Colorado-based Boston Chicken Inc. was one of the leaders in the burgeoning restaurant category of home meal replacement, or HMR. The term home meal replacement applied to restaurant-style food for taking home, including, of course, such traditional take-out options as pizza and burgers and fries. But many Americans began to draw the line at having that kind of meal too often. Consequently, a market emerged for more thoroughly prepared and nutritionally beneficent "comfort foods."
Boston Chicken, Inc. began franchising and operating retail food service stores under the brand name Boston Market. The restaurants, located in 38 states, offered home meal replacement in the form of comfort foods, which included rotisserie-roasted chicken, roast turkey, baked ham, and meat loaf, as well as fresh vegetables, salads, and other side dishes. By mid-1998 there were 1,149 Boston Market stores in 38 states and the District of Columbia, of which 936 were company owned. Boston Chicken also owned a majority interest in Einstein/Noah Bagel Corp., and its subsidiary company, Progressive Food Concepts, marketed a line of prepared foods via supermarkets.
Boston Market made its name in the home meal replacement category by offering dinner entrees. In January 1996, however, it expanded its line to attract the lunch crowd. It introduced a line of "Carver" sandwiches containing ham, turkey, or meat loaf. The next year saw the rollout of the Extreme Carver, a larger sandwich containing bacon and cheese in addition to meat. The marketing campaign for the Extreme Carver was accompanied by a coupon offer granting 20 or 25 percent off the new sandwiches. A series of television commercials was created by the Santa Monica, California, ad agency Suissa Miller. The new spots parodied commercials for other products, specifically the spare, artsy ads for Calvin Klein designer fragrances. Filmed in black and white, the spots starred the sardonic ESPN sports anchor Keith Olbermann (who appeared in color for comic effect). They were designed to capitalize on the sports maven's appeal among 18- to 29-year-old men, one of the key target markets for Extreme Carver sandwiches.
Boston Chicken was founded in 1988 by entrepreneur George Naddaff, one of the first men to see the potential of the burgeoning home food replacement industry. Brought up in Boston's South End by parents who emigrated from Lebanon, Naddaff was shining shoes at age 10 and went through the auto shop course at Brighton High School before learning that he was allergic to grease. He switched his career interests to sales, starting out peddling baby furniture to expectant parents in their homes and using leads provided by the manufacturer.
Naddaff began his franchising career in 1967, when he bought a regional franchise for Colonel Sanders' Kentucky Fried Chicken, opening 22 shops before selling the business in 1970. Having learned the fundamentals of business, he teamed with an early-childhood education specialist, Grace Mitchell, to start Living and Learning Centres Inc., a chain of child-care centers that grew to 48 locations in 10 years. They sold the chain in 1980 to Kinder-Care Learning Centers Inc. By that time...