Applebee’s Picks Kansas City’s Barkley as Its New Creative Agency

Account had been with Crispin Porter + Bogusky

Top American casual chain Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar, which announced in November that it would end its three-year relationship with Crispin Porter + Bogusky, has chosen Barkley as its new agency of record after an informal review that a source said pitted the independent Kansas City shop against FCB's Chicago office.

Barkley, which is perhaps best known for its work for Sonic, will handle all 2016 campaigns as Applebee's moves forward with plans to transform its overall marketing and advertising strategies.

Prior to the selection, Applebee's parent company DineEquity, Inc. announced plans to consolidate most of its operations at its Glendale, California headquarters in what it called a plan "designed to accelerate growth in its core brands and speed development of traditional and non-traditional locations." Applebee's International president Steven R. Layt also resigned as part of this move.

The chain's svp of marketing and culinary Darin Dugan said, "As we take the iconic Applebee's brand to new places, we're excited about the creative potential of the Applebee's-Barkley relationship." He added 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 CEO Jeff King said he's enthusiastic about the assignment: "Applebee's invented the casual dining segment and has a unique and rich heritage. We are thrilled about the opportunity to help a powerful brand tell a new story extremely well."

This is not the first time the chain and agency have teamed up. Barkley's Blacktop unit has worked on Applebee's menu design and other below-the-line projects for several years.

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.

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