Applebee's Hands CP&B Creative Duties After Review

Fast-Casual Chain Becomes Agency's Third Restaurant Client

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Applebee's has handed its creative account to CP&B after a review, according to people familiar with the matter. The account had been handled by Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson.

Ad Age reported last week that the agency had picked up the Arby's creative account from BBDO with no review. The Arby's decision was led by former Burger King marketing chief Russ Klein. Mr. Klein and CP&B have a relationship, as he hand-picked the agency for the Burger King creative account back in 2004; CP&B lost Burger King last March.

The move boosts CP&B, which last year came up short in new business and started this year with layoffs. It means the agency will have to staff up two sizable accounts consecutively and will now have three restaurant brands. It handles Domino's in addition to Applebee's and Arby's .

In the final round of the review, Applebee's narrowed down contenders to four, including MDC Partners-owned CP&B, Publicis Groupe 's Publicis Dallas, indie agency Barkley in Kansas City, Mo., and CP&B sibling Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal & Partners.

Incumbent McCann had worked with the restaurant since 2007, when it shifted its account from sibling DraftFCB. But the agency did not participate in the review. Morgan Anderson Consulting oversaw the process. The review did not affect media duties, which have been at McCann's sibling agency, Universal McCann, since 2009.

Applebee's and CP&B could not be immediately reached for comment.

Applebee's said in a statement when it announced the review that the chain -- the U.S.'s 10th largest by 2010 sales of $4.3 billion, according to Technomic -- spends more than $100 million annually on advertising, including national TV spots, local advertising and an "ever-growing social media presence." The chain's parent company is DineEquity, which also owns IHOP.

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