IHOP Confirms Review

LOS ANGELES IHOP today confirmed it is reviewing creative chores on its estimated $80 million ad account and said Interpublic Group’s McCann Erickson here is defending.

Patrick Lenow, director of communications at IHOP, last week denied that the account was going into review. Today, he said a consultant has been hired to oversee the process and added that a list of agencies has been assembled. No more shop solicitations will be entertained, he said.

Adweek.com first reported om Sept. 20 that IHOP would review.

Lenow declined to disclose the name of the consultancy or identify the agencies engaged in the pitch.

In July, the Glendale, Calif.-based company agreed to acquire the Applebee’s restaurant chain by the fourth quarter of 2007, only a week after McCann’s New York office won Applebee’s $180 million account.

The lead creative on the IHOP business for seven years, executive creative director Richard Mahan, left McCann’s L.A. office in July to start his own shop, dubbed Tactic, in Santa Monica, Calif. Mahan could not be immediately reached.

In addition, evp, director of account planning Simon Little left McCann last month. He was running the IHOP account, among others, when he was with the agency.

After Mahan left, McCann CCO Steve Levit was expected take over the creative leadership, though the work approved before Mahan’s departure was expected to cover much of 2008 broadcast.

IHOP spent $80 million in U.S. measured media in 2006, and $40 million through June 2007, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

National media duties, held by Universal McCann, are not in play, per sources.