Arby’s Shifts Account to Crispin From BBDO

New CMO taps former agency partner

They could probably use some "good-mood food" over at BBDO today. Arby’s, a client at the Omnicom agency since the end of 2010, awarded its nearly $100 million account to Crispin Porter + Bogusky without a review.

The move reunites Arby’s new CMO Russ Klein with the MDC Partners agency he hired in 2004, when he was global chief marketing officer at Burger King. Klein left BK in late 2009 and joined Arby’s last month.

“BBDO’s work for Arby’s was exactly what the brand needed at the time,” Klein said of the change. “This transition is about where we are taking the brand and how we are going to get there.”

While no incumbent can be surprised when replaced by an agency that had a previous working relationship with a new CMO, the news follows recent public endorsements of BBDO by Arby’s executives, including Klein. Just last week, Bob Kraut, Arby's svp of advertising and brand communications, publicly acknowledged the brand’s marketing as playing a role in the initial stages of a turnaround at the fast-food chain. Speaking at an Association of National Advertisers’ event, he said BBDO’s new “Good-mood food” tag registered 60 percent awareness in 10 months and that in 2011 the company posted its highest sales increase in 10 years.  

“There’s not much to say. The numbers speak for themselves,” said John Osborn, president and CEO of BBDO, New York. “We’re proud of our contributions to the Arby’s business. We wish the brand continued growth.”

Klein and CP+B had years of initial success with a BK strategy that targeted young men. By the end of the marketing exec’s tenure at the burger chain, however, his partnership with CP+B was marred by controversial ad campaigns, sliding sales and friction with franchisees. Following six quarters of declining sales, BK’s new owners split with CP+B in March 2011 and hired mcgarrybowen in June of that year.

BBDO won Arby’s in December 2010 following a review. The agency replaced sister Omnicom shop Merkley & Partners after declining same-store sales.

Arby’s other marketing partners, Initiative Media and its co-op ad agencies, are not impacted by this shift. Alcone Marketing also remains Arby’s agency of record for creative and print production.