Draftfcb Chicago won't defend Applebee's account

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Applebee's International Inc. opened a creative review of its brand advertising account in a move that left current agency of record Draftfcb Chicago unwilling to defend the business.

George Williams, the new chief marketing officer of Applebee's, Overland Park, KS, made public his decision to take the chain's advertising in a different direction. Foote Cone & Belding, which recently merged with Draft to form Draftfcb, handled the Applebee's account for seven years.

"Draftfcb and Applebee's have mutually agreed to end our relationship due to the direction Applebee's new CMO wants to take the work," Draftfcb said in a statement. "While Draftfcb was invited to defend the account in an agency review, we have respectfully declined."

Mr. Williams plans to wrap up the agency review by the second quarter.

There are roughly 1,942 Applebee's restaurants operating in 49 U.S. states, one U.S. territory and 16 countries. The restaurants run under the Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar brand.

In other news, Draftfcb hired Jim Lucas to head a newly created shopper marketing unit as the agency strengthens its presence in the retail sector.

About 80 percent of U.S. buying decisions nationwide are made in retail, according to Draftfcb. As executive vice president and director, Mr. Lucas will lead a unit dedicated to helping retailers, manufacturers and service providers understand and motivate shoppers in the cluttered retail environment. He will work out of Draftfcb's Chicago office.

Mr. Lucas has more than two decades' experience in marketing. He has served as director of strategic planning and research at Draft Chicago, director of planning and research at Frankel in Chicago and director of analytics and modeling at Krumm & Associates LLC.

Meanwhile, Draftfcb officially debuted in Argentina. The agency is the combination of FCB Argentina, Lowe Argentina and Draft Argentina. The three agencies merged in line with the global consolidation of Draft and FCB.

More than 120 employees will staff Draftfcb Argentina, including 38 creative executives. Pablo Poncini is president of Draftfcb Argentina, Santiago Olivera is vice president and Alvaro Fernandez Mendy is director of integrated communications. Claudio Sordo is the agency's director of marketing services and Guillermo Castaneda and Juan Cruz Bazterrica are general creative directors.

These executives and their staff will work on accounts such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, DirecTV, Johnson & Johnson, S.C. Johnson, Arcor, Banco Galicia, Brando, Dairy Partners Americas, Garbarino and Isenbeck.

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