There goes the neighborhood: Applebee’s goes into review

There goes the neighborhood: Applebee’s goes into review

Steve’s breakdown: Becky Johnson is the marketing head at Applebee’s. She’s been the CMO at Brinker and then Block Buster. Morgan Anderson Consulting is handling the review.

LENEXA, KS: Casual dining chain Applebee’s is looking for a new creative agency.

The incumbent, Interpublic’s McCann Erickson, — which has worked with the restaurant since 2007, when it shifted its account from sister shop DraftFCB — will not participate in the review.

A statement issued by Applebee’s said that the review will not impact media duties, which are at Universal McCann. Morgan Anderson Consulting, New York, is leading the review, and Applebee’s expects to have the process wrapped up and have a new agency in place by the end of the first quarter of 2012.

“Applebee’s recognizes the contributions that have been made by McCann over the years and what they’ve helped us accomplish,” said Becky Johnson, senior VP-marketing and culinary, Applebee’s Services, in the statement. “We’ve made significant changes to our food, beverage, menu, buildings and marketing communications in the past year. Given those changes — and the ever-shifting consumer landscape — we need to continue to evolve how we grow the health of our brand.”

Said McCann’s chief creative officer, Linus Karlsson, in a separate statement: “For the past five years, we have helped our Applebee’s client to not only hold their own but also innovate in a very tough competitive landscape and, in the past few years especially, battle through a depressed economy. We respect Applebee’s decision, and while they have asked us to participate, we have decided to decline their invitation. We wish Applebee’s continued success.”

The statement also said that the chain, which is the 10th largest in the U.S. by sales, according to Technomic, spends more than $100 million annually on advertising, including national TV spots, local advertising and an “ever-growing social media presence.”

And so the agency business goes — you win some accounts, you lose some accounts. In the span of a week, McCann has lost two big ones — Exxon and now Applebee’s — although it won some more global work from retailer Ikea.


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