Applebee’s Eyes 2 Shops

CHICAGO Two agencies will square off next week in a shootout to handle creative duties on Applebee’s $180 million advertising account, sources said.

Omnicom Group’s TBWA\Chiat\Day and Interpublic Group’s McCann Erickson, both in New York, will present ideas to executives of the Overland Park, Kan., company, according to sources. One source said both agencies presented strategies that revolved around a “younger, more energetic” positioning for the restaurant chain.

The shops advanced from a group of at least four contenders, per sources. Applebee’s began its review in March.

Agency officials either declined comment or couldn’t be reached. The business had previously been with IPG’s DraftFCB in Chicago, which devised the company’s current tagline, “Eatin’ good in the neighborhood.”

The review, which began in March, came shortly after George Williams joined the company as chief marketing officer in February. “We are looking for the best and brightest minds in the business to bring forward fresh, new and compelling advertising that will make consumers hunger for our food and eager to be a part of the Applebee’s dining experience,” Williams said in a statement issued when the search was announced.

Media planning and buying duties, currently at Publicis Groupe’s Starcom in Chicago, are not affected by the review.

Though Applebee’s spends about $180 million on advertising annually, sources said the revenue from the account was relatively small, around $3.5 million.

Company officials did not immediately return phone calls.