Zenith Wins Arby’s Media

By Jessica Wohl. Published on December 18, 2018, Advertising Age

Inspire Brands now works with three creative agencies and two media ones across its three big chains.

Arby's and Sonic Drive-In have been part of the same company for less than two weeks. Now they're working with the same media agency — Publicis Groupe's Zenith, which has won the Arby's business from Interpublic's Initiative.

Inspire Brands, which owns Arby's and Buffalo Wild Wings, bought Sonic in December. Sonic has worked with Zenith for years. Zenith will begin working on the Arby's national account as of Jan. 1. Initiative, which held the Arby's account for more than 15 years, retains the brand's local media account. The Arby's national account shift represents the second time this month that a client has moved media from Interpublic to Publicis Groupe: Last week, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles shifted its media business from UM to Starcom.

However, an IPG Mediabrands spokesman said Initiative it did not participate in the Arby's review. "As Arby's is now part of Inspire Brands joining other restaurant brands like Buffalo Wild Wings, we declined to pitch due to conflicts with other Initiative clients," he stated in an email. Initiative handles Applebees, which competes with Buffalo Wild Wings.

Inspire does not plan to consolidate all its holdings under Zenith. Buffalo Wild Wings, which Inspire acquired in February, moved its media to WPP's Mindshare in the fall. Combined, the three brands spend close to $500 million on paid media annually, according to Inspire. Arby's spent about $140 million on measured media in 2017, according to Kantar Media.

Sonic is the largest of the three chains, with just over 3,600 restaurants, 95 percent of which are franchised, and $4.4 billion in systemwide sales. Arby's has about 3,440 restaurants, with about 77 percent franchised, and systemwide sales of $3.7 billion. Buffalo Wild Wings has roughly 1,270 restaurants, half of which are franchised, and systemwide sales of $3.9 billion. Inspire also owns the small Rusty Taco chain, which has 28 restaurants, 19 of which are franchised.

Sonic continues to work with Goodby Silverstein & Partners on creative and Vayner on social. Buffalo Wild Wings selected the Martin Agency earlier this year for creative and works with 22squared on social.