Publicis Kaplan Thaler Wins Red Lobster

Takes over from Grey N.Y.

Publicis Kaplan Thaler has been named the creative lead on Red Lobster’s business after a review launched in April.

The New York office of Grey, the incumbent on the account since 2010, didn’t participate in the search, which was initiated because of the chain’s impending sale from parent Darden Restaurants.

The review included three other finalists, with Interpublic’s The Martin Agency and independents Olson and Barkley also vying for the Orlando-based restaurant's business. Pile + Co. managed the search, as it did four years ago when Grey won the account from The Richards Group, then the incumbent of six years.

Grey, which created the "Sea Food Differently" tagline for Red Lobster, continues to work on Darden’s Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse brands.  

Red Lobster’s media spending exceeded $156 million last year, down slightly from about $160 million in 2012, according to Kantar Media. SMG’s Spark handles Red Lobster’s media buying.

Darden, under scrutiny by activist shareholders, had said it was considering a spinoff or sale of the struggling seafood chain and in May, Golden Gate Capital said it was acquiring Red Lobster for $2.1 billion.