Hooters hires Firehouse as new creative agency—behind the move

Firehouse was selected following a monthlong review that included Morrison, said Bruce Skala, chief marketing officer of HOA Brands. “We wanted a fresh approach from an agency that had a little more experience and focus on the casual dining space,” Skala said. “We had been with our current agency for seven-plus years and we thought it was time to explore the opportunities through an RFP.”

Firehouse has worked with numerous restaurant chains including Chili’s, Dick’s Last Resort, Macaroni Grill, On the Border and Twin Peaks, according to its website. The Dallas-based agency ranked as one of Ad Age’s Best Places to Work in 2022.

Hooters spent $5.3 million on U.S. measured media in 2022, according to Vivvix, including paid social data from Pathmatics. For all of 2021, Hooters spent $4.3 million on measured media.

Skala said Hooters, which turns 40 years old this year, is seeking to connect with younger audiences and grow through loyalty and digital sales. The company is also actively seeking new franchisees.

NIL deals

Hooters has taken a unique approach to college athlete name, image and likeness (NIL) deals. Last season, Hooters signed the entire offensive lines of 17 college football teams. The strategy gave Hooters a good bang for its buck, Skala said, while supporting its blue-collar appeal.

“Other places might sign a quarterback or the star wide receiver, but who is in our restaurants? It’s the working men and women of America. [Offensive linemen] are the guys who didn’t get a lot of love with sponsorships. And we made clear that we got the entire offensive line as a group, if we sponsored you. That paired well with the average party size at our restaurants,” Skala said.