Cracker Barrel to air first TV ads in years

LEBANON Tenn. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store said it is testing its first TV campaign since the late 1990s in a bid to increase traffic from local residents and supplement the sales from travelers, who learn about the chain through its billboards.

The spots are part of a campaign titled “The Front Porch” and will air in six markets: Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C.; Lexington, Ky.; Louisville, Ky.; Jacksonville/Brunswick, Fla.; Nashville, Tenn., and Indianapolis.

“Our research shows that Cracker Barrel is a primary choice for people when they are on the road, and we want to have that same level of awareness when they are simply thinking about local dining alternatives,” said Simon Turner, chief marketing officer for the 565-unit family dining chain based here.

For the four-week period ended Sept. 28, Cracker Barrel reported that same-store restaurants sales were up 1.5 percent from a year earlier. The average check increased 3.1 percent, which was due mainly to an average menu price increase of about 3.8 percent, the company reported. Customer traffic dropped 1.6 percent.

The commercials, created by Fry Hammond Barr of Orlando, Fla., focus on multi-generation families enjoying themselves at Cracker Barrel to position the chain as a place where diners can reconnect with neighbors and families.