Applebee's names CP+B as its AOR

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Andrew Keller
Andrew Keller

Applebee's Neighborhood Bar & Grill named Boulder, Colo.-based interactive agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky (CP+B) as its U.S. creative agency of record, shifting its business from its previous AOR McCann Erickson, New York, Applebee's representative Nancy Mays told Direct Marketing News March 1.

CP+G will act as lead agency for all of Applebee's' integrated marketing communications, including on TV and in the social sphere, said Mays, who noted that the brand's new arrangement with CP+G would not affect its ongoing relationship with its current media agency, Universal McCann. The work will begin immediately.

After a formal request for proposal process that began in November 2011, the playing field was narrowed down to four finalists: CP+B; Kansas City, Mo.-based agency Barkley; Publicis Dallas; and Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners in New York, the latter of which is owned by MDC Partners, the same company that owns CP+B, said a CP+B spokeswoman.

Mays said Applebee's decided to choose a new AOR because it was “looking for an accelerant.”

“We had a lot of momentum around the brand in terms of changing our menus and revitalizing the restaurants, so we were just looking for a new way to tell our story and we do have a great story to tell — but we need to get our story out there in a compelling way,” she said. “Crispin has a rich history delivering that added relevancy to big brands like ours.”

In addition to Applebee's, CP+B's client list includes Domino's Pizza, American Express and Microsoft.

CP+B CEO Andrew Keller, who originally hails from Decatur, Ga., where Applebee's was founded in 1980, said he looks forward to helping the brand “keep rolling in a great way.”

“I see them as this great iconic American brand and I'm really looking forward to helping them separate themselves and make themselves more telegraphically distinctive from the other brands in the category,” Keller said. “These guys really invented the category and I think they should own it. I'm excited to be on that big stage.”

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