IHOP Looks at 3 Shops

LOS ANGELES Three agencies made final presentations this week in IHOP’s review of creative chores on its $80 million ad account, per sources.

Interpublic Group’s McCann Erickson here, MDC Partners’ VitroRobertson in San Diego and independent Tactic of Santa Monica, Calif., are in contention, sources said. McCann is the incumbent.

Richard Mahan, the former McCann ecd who guided IHOP campaigns before departing this summer, leads Tactic.

A decision is imminent, per sources.

Russel Wohlwerth of Ark Advisors here is the search consultant leading the review for the client.

Executives at the agencies, client and consultancy either declined comment or could not be reached.

The creative portion of the business went into review in September, precipitated in part by IHOP’s acquisition of competitor Applebee’s and the assignment of that restaurant chain’s marketing duties to McCann’s New York headquarters office.

It was further propelled by the departure of Mahan, who led creative on the business for six years, and evp, account planning director Simon Little, who also worked on the business, per sources.

The IHOP TV work currently airing was fashioned by Mahan, acting as a freelance cd for McCann shortly after his departure from the agency’s staff.

Glendale, Calif.-based IHOP spent $80 million in domestic media in 2006 and was on pace to match that outlay in 2007, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Universal McCann handles media duties on IHOP; those chores are not in play.