Nintendo Taps Initiative as Media Agency in the U.S.

By Megan Graham. Published on February 12, 2019, Advertising Age

Nintendo is about to switch up its media agency. The marketer has selected Interpublic Group of Cos.-owned Initiative as its new shop in the U.S. after a review, according to people familiar with the matter.

Publicis Media's Blue 449 is the incumbent on the account. The agency referred comment to the client.

Responding to a request for comment Monday, Nintendo said via email, "We have nothing to announce on this topic." Initiative also declined to comment.

Ad Age first reported the news of the review in July 2018.

Japan-headquartered Nintendo staged a comeback in 2017 with the release of its Switch, a crossover between a home-gaming console and portable gaming device, which retails for $299.99. But in January 2019, the marketer cut its outlook for annual Switch shipments — suggesting the console was struggling to attract a wider user base, Bloomberg reported earlier this year.

Nintendo still works with Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett on creative.

Los Angeles-based External View Consulting Group managed the search process. External View could not be immediately reached for comment.

Nintendo Co. spent an estimated $73.8 million in measured media in the U.S. in 2017, according to Kantar Media.

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.

Buffalo Wild Wings Picks New Creative and Media Agencies Ahead of 2019 Rebrand

By Jessica Wohl. Published on November 28, 2018, Advertising Age

Buffalo Wild Wines picked The Martin Agency as its lead creative agency and is now working with Mindshare on media as it plans for a brand relaunch in 2019.

The agency changes come during what's been a busy year at Buffalo Wild Wings. In February, the wings and beer chain was sold to Arby's for $2.9 billion. In August, Seth Freeman joined Buffalo Wild Wings as CMO. That same month, the chain kicked off its "Escape to Football" campaign, as well as an updated logo. Lyle Tick joined as president in September.

Now, Buffalo Wild Wings is gearing up for what Freeman calls a relaunch, coming in 2019. Buffalo Wild Wings was eager to get some new agency partners to help with the effort.