Red Lobster Goes Fishing Restaurant Dangles $90 Mil. Ad Account; Talks to Six Agencies From N.Y. to Chicago

By Hank Kim

NEW YORK–Six agencies have been selected to pitch for the creative and media planning duties for Red Lobster Restaurants’ estimated $90 million advertising account, sources said last week.

Deutsch, Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy & Mather, all in New York, along with Chicago-based Euro RSCG Tatham have been invited to participate in the review. All the shops either declined comment or could not be reached. Zenith Media USA, a division of Cordiant, will retain media buying duties.

Grey Advertising here, the incumbent, will defend the account. Grey has worked with the Orlando, Fla.-based company for the past 12 years. The shop also handles creative and media planning for The Olive Garden, which, along with Red Lobster, is owned by Darden Restaurants.

Morgan, Anderson & Co. has been retained by Red Lobster to coordinate the review process. Creative presentations will be held in mid- to late June, with a decision expected in early July.

‘We’re looking for an agency partner that can provide strategic thinking on the continuing repositioning of Red Lobster as well as good creative,’ said Rick Walsh, senior vice president, corporate affairs at Darden Restaurants.

Red Lobster has suffered from flagging traffic and weak sales in the past year. Poor performance ultimately led to the ouster of president Kirk Spresser in September 1996.

…..–with staff reports

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