Energy BBDO Wins Brinker Eateries

DALLAS Two Brinker International restaurant chains—Romano’s Macaroni Grill and On the Border Mexican Grill and Cantina—have chosen Omnicom Group’s Energy BBDO in Chicago to handle creative duties following a review, the client said.

The primary incumbent agency, Omnicom’s GSD&M in Austin, Texas, opted not to defend those assignments. However, GSD&M still represents the Chili’s restaurant chain, which is also owned by Brinker. Rapp Collins also recently handled some elements of the business.

Macaroni Grill spent more than $5 million on ads in 2006, a considerable increase on the $1 million it spent the previous year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

On the Border spent approximately $2 million on ads in 2006, only half of its paid-media outlay in 2005.

Dallas-based Brinker operates and franchises more than 1,300 casual-dining restaurants nationwide. Other Brinker holdings include Maggiano’s Little Italy.

The shift may have been precipitated by poor sales at Macaroni Grill, which recorded a 5 percent sales drop in the last quarter. In contrast, Chili’s posted its best sales in 11 quarters, the company said.

Other review contenders were not disclosed. Upcoming efforts from Energy BBDO will likely include a mix of traditional and online media.