Applebee’s Names Barkley AOR

By Erik Oster 

Applebee’s named Kansas City-based agency Barkley as its advertising agency of record, effective as of March 1, 2016.

The appointment follows a process in which Barkley was, per a statement, “one of a select few potential agency partners with which Applebee’s discussed the assignment of its account.” We hear FCB Chicago was its only competitor in the process. Barkley creative unit Blacktop has previously worked with the brand on menu design and creative projects, which likely played a role in the decision.

The selection comes as the brand seeks to transform its overall marketing direction amidst an evolving marketplace and increased competition from fast casual chains. DineEquity, Inc. spent $165.4 million on measured media for Applebee’s in the U.S. last year, according to Kantar Media. The company spent nearly $100 million in the first half of 2015, marking an increase from its 2013 total of $177 million.

“As we take the iconic Applebee’s brand to new places, we’re excited about the creative potential of the Applebee’s-Barkley relationship,” said Applebee’s senior vice president of marketing & culinary Darin Dugan. “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.”

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