Barkley Wins $165 Million Applebee's Account

Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar has selected Kansas City-based Barkley as its advertising agency of record, effective March 1, 2016.

The assignment comes amid plans by Applebee parent DineEquity (which also runs the IHOP restaurant franchise) to reshape the restaurant brand’s direction in a bid to accelerate growth. Applebee’s Q3 domestic franchise restaurant sales were flat at $1.1 billion. Sales for the first nine months were up a little more than 2%.

Applebee’s president Steven Layt resigned in September.

The company confirmed earlier that it was parting ways with incumbent agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky, which won the Applebee’s account in 2012. Applebee’s spent $165 million on ads last year according to Kantar Media.

The casual dining chain said the selection of Barkley was a “key element of the brand’s previously discussed plans to transform its overall marketing and advertising direction.”  

Darin Dugan, Applebee’s Senior Vice President of Marketing & Culinary said that “Barkley’s track record of driving results in the restaurant category and contemporizing established brands makes the agency an ideal partner to support our new direction.”

Barkley’s other restaurant clients include On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina, DQ and Noodles & Co. Earlier it worked for the Sonic chain for nearly two decades. 

The win marks an expansion of Barkley’s relationship with the client. Barkley creative unit Blacktop has worked with Applebee’s on its menu design and other creative projects for the past several years.

“Applebee’s invented the casual dining segment and has a unique and rich heritage,” said Jeff King, CEO of Barkley. “We are thrilled about the opportunity to help a powerful brand tell a new story extremely well.”

Media duties, not part of the review, remain with Interpublic's BPN. 

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