Red Lobster Meets With Tatham, Challengers

CHICAGO Red Lobster is talking to the incumbent and two other agencies as it considers possible changes on its $100 million ad account, the client confirmed.

The unit of Orlando, Fla.-based Darden Restaurants is meeting with Havas’ Euro RSCG Tatham Partners in Chicago, which has held the business for five years; Grey Global Group’s Grey in New York, which handles Darden’s Olive Garden chain; and independent The Richards Group in Dallas, the client said.

Kim Lopdrup, Red Lobster’s executive vice president of marketing, has called and met with those three shops and several others since joining Red Lobster in December.

Tatham’s most recent campaign, tagged “Share the love,” launched last July but was subsequently panned by client executives including Dick Rivera, who exited as president and chief operating officer in early January. The tagline has been dropped, and Tatham has been working on new executions, with meetings scheduled into next month, sources said.

Tatham late last month laid off 10-15 percent of its staff, and shortly afterwards chief creative officer Jim Schmidt left the agency. In November, the group account director for Red Lobster, Tim Mauery, left the agency.

Red Lobster sales have been slipping. The company reported same-store sales fell 12-13 percent in December, continuing a pattern that began last spring following two years of same-store sales gains.