Barkley to Succeed Grey as Dairy Queen's Agency

Chain Spent Nearly $80 Million in Measured Media Last Year

By Published on .

Indie agency Barkley has won creative duties for Dairy Queen restaurants after a review, succeeding the chain's longtime agency of record, WPP's Grey .

Though there have been several fast-food reviews in recent months -- among them, pitches for Wendy's and Taco Bell digital duties, and Burger King looking to add agencies to its roster -- the Dairy Queen review was one of the largest.

Dairy Queen spent $77 million on domestic measured media last year, and between January and June of this year it spent more than $30 million, according to Kantar. The company, owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, is headquartered in Minneapolis and has more than 6,000 locations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and 17 other countries.

In a year that 's been slow on the new-business front, many creative shops went after the account. It's unclear how many contenders participated, but it's likely that Barkley's previous experience in fast food gave it an edge.

"Dairy Queen is an iconic brand that is well-known and loved, so we received a tremendous amount of interest from agencies across the nation," said Barry Westrum, the chain's exec VP-marketing, in a statement. "We were impressed with Barkley's creative approach, experience and keen understanding of our brand and the [quick-service restaurant] industry. They captured the soul of our brand in a unique, contemporary and relevant manner. Barkley understands the untapped power of the DQ brand lies within the hearts and minds of our consumers and franchisees."

Barkley worked with Sonic for 17 years, until Omnicom's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners won the account in early 2011. But Barkley's restaurant experience goes beyond that , as the agency earlier this year created a campaign for Quiznos. Barkley also picked up creative duties for On the Border in early 2011.

Founded in 1964, independent Barkley has offices in Kansas City, Mo; Pittsburgh; and Boulder, Colo. As part of its duties for DQ, Barkley will be responsible for all TV creative in U.S. and Canada and a new round of TV ads will launch this spring.

WPP's Grey had the account for 15 years, but DQ launched a review in September and Grey did not participate. At the time that Dairy Queen and Grey split, Michael Houston, managing director of Grey , New York, noted that the company had new management, and that a 15-year relationship is unusual in fast food. The pitch did not affect DQ's media agency of record, Publicis Groupe 's Spark, or any other agency partners.

"We are confident that Barkley will showcase the DQ brand not only as the treat category leader, but as something different and something better," Mr. Westrum said in the statement. "Their campaign will continue to reinforce the brand's positioning as contemporary and relevant for today's consumer."

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