We Hear: Applebee’s Review Down to 3 Finalists

By Erik Oster 

Applebee’s creative review is down to three finalists, according to a source close to the matter. The source named BBDO San Francisco, Grey New York and Argonaut San Francisco as the three agencies competing for the account in the final stages of the review.

Applebee’s parent company, DineEquity, launched the review back in December, after working with Barkley as lead creative agency for less than a year. Barkley won the account after Applebee’s ended its relationship with CP+B in November of 2015 and began serving as the chain’s AOR last March. This past summer the agency launched the brand’s “largest marketing initiative to date” with a campaign focused on the chain’s wood-fired steaks and brought on Kyle Jones from VB&P to lead the account. The agency will continue to handle menu and in-store experience work for Applebee’s.

Barkley went through a series of “staffing adjustments” last month, parting ways with around 15-20 employees (including executive vice president Mike Goff) but an agency spokesperson claimed the departures “did not result in a declining headcount” as the agency continues to “aggressively” recruit new talent. A source also claimed at the time that the changes were performance-based and not directly related to the Applebee’s business.

BBDO San Francisco currently works with Uncle Ben’s Rice but has no fast food clients on its roster. Grey New York, meanwhile, has worked with pizza chain Papa John’s since 2014.