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Arby's picks new ad agency

BBDO New York to launch first campaign for chain next year

Arby’s Restaurant Group Inc. has named BBDO New York its new advertising agency of record, replacing Merkley + Partners.

The 3,700-unit sandwich chain, a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Wendy’s/Arby’s Group, said the selection followed a five-phase review process begun in August, in which four agencies competed for the account. Arby’s former agency, New York-based Merkley + Partners, did not defend the account it had held since 2004.

“The selection of BBDO New York is an important step in our turnaround plan,” said Hala Moddelmog, Arby’s president. “They demonstrated a clear understanding of the Arby’s brand, our positioning and our target customers. Their creative work brings to life our positioning, ‘Exciting tastes you can feel good about … every day,’ in ways that will resonate with consumers.”

The new ad agency marks the latest step in Arby's turnaround efforts, which have included the hiring of Moddelmog in May and the appointment last week of Diana Petrovich-Tao as chief operating officer.

BBDO, whose work in the restaurant industry includes campaigns for Starbucks and Pizza Hut, most recently won multiple awards at the 2009 and 2010 Cannes Lions Awards, including Network of the Year.

Arby’s said BBDO’s first campaign for the chain would break in the first quarter of 2011.

The sandwich chain most recently saw the benefits of national advertising when commercials for its $1 Value Menu running in October drove a significant increase in same-store sales and traffic for that month, as Wendy’s/Arby’s chief executive Roland Smith pointed out in the company’s third-quarter earnings conference call.

“At Arby’s, we promoted our $1 Value Menu with national advertising in October, and same-store sales at company-operated restaurants increased 5.5 percent,” Smith told investors. “Let me say that again: Company-operated restaurants increased 5.5 percent with double-digit increases in transactions. This dynamic reversal of both sales and transaction trends reflects early traction in our efforts to turn around performance at Arby’s.”

In Wendy's/Arby's Group's most recent quarter, ended Oct. 3, same-store sales decreased 5.9 percent at Arby’s restaurants in North America.

Contact Mark Brandau at [email protected].

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