ESW wins new accounts, adds staff, plans rebranding


It isn’t always on our radar screen in quite the same way some other local ad shops are, but, as it turns out, there’s lots happening at ESW Partners/Chicago these days.

Tops on the list is a major account win — Atlanta-based Church’s Chicken. 

The account was previously at Trend, an Atlanta agency.  ESW now will develop new Church’s advertising for broadcast, print, in-store and interactive platforms.

ESW is no stranger to the chicken chain business. The agency had been handling Chicago-area regional advertising for the KFC chain — a piece of business the agency recently resigned to take on the larger Church’s account.

Church’s is no small operation. According to the corporate Website, the chain includes more than 1,700 restaurants in 23 countries on four continents.  Systemwide sales currently total around $1.2 billion annually.

In some parts of the world, Church’s is known as Texas Chicken, an homage, perhaps, to the chicken chain’s roots. The company was founded in 1952 in San Antonio, Tex.  Church’s is comprised of both company-owned and franchised outlets.

Right timing: Church’s plans total revamp

ESW’s Jim Signorelli

According to Church’s executives, ESW also is coming on board at a “time of transition” for the company.  New top management has been installed, and their goal is to increase profitability, product innovation and update and re-imagine company restaurants.

“Our partnership with the team at ESW will focus on developing marketing campaigns that will convey our product quality and value story, drive profitable traffic, enhance guest engagement and create a distinct competitive positioning,” said Rob Crews, chief marketing officer for Church’s Chicken. 

“We also have a robust pipeline of menu items that we’ll introduce and showcase with a new creative campaign,” added Crews.

Needless to say, ESW founder and CEO Jim Signorelli is happy to be part of the marketing arsenal at Church’s. “This is an exciting time to be partnering with Church’s,” said Signorelli. 

“We’re proud to be part of this brand’s evolution as we work to help it gain even more deserved interest in what is already a unique and compelling brand story,” he added.

Four top executives hired

Kevin JohnsonBut the Church’s win is not all that’s happening at ESW.  The agency has been busy hiring new staff to handle the influx of new business.  In addition to Church’s, over the past 12 months ESW has picked up Aurora Healthcare, a Milwaukee-based healthcare organization, and CH Vodka, a startup micro distillery based in Chicago.

The new hires include Kevin Johnson, who comes to ESW from CommonGround, where he was a group creative director.  Cathy Antoniello is joining ESW as executive producer.  She was formerly with Global Hue, where she oversaw broadcast production for their Detroit and New York shops.

David Sollitt comes on board as ESW’s new general manager.  He was previously with DraftFCB for around two decades. Also Laura Waters is joining as an account supervisor.  She previously worked at Groupon.

As if all of this weren’t enough going on at ESW, the agency has one more big development in the works.  Signorelli is putting the finishing touches on a rebranding of the agency that is tied to a book he recently wrote titled “StoryBranding: Creating Standout Brands Through the Power of Story.” 

Signorelli said he plans to release details of the rebranding in a couple of weeks, but look for the new agency name to be ESW StoryLab.

Contact Lewis Lazare at