Richards Declines to Defend Bennigan’s

DALLAS Bennigan’s Grill & Tavern has parted ways with The Richards Group, the agency and client confirmed.

Robert Turtledove, senior vice president of marketing for Bennigan’s parent Metromedia Restaurant Group, said the company began “looking at our agency support situation” earlier this month. “We are mapping out new strategies and a new direction and what agency partners and resources we need,” he said, declining to elaborate on the new marketing plan.

The Dallas-based independent agency, which has worked with the client for four years, was invited to participate in the evaluation process but declined, Turtledove said. He said Bennigan’s is talking to “a couple” of undisclosed agencies but would not call the process a review.

Richards handled creative and media duties, and its subsidiary Latitude was responsible for promotions.

Plano, Texas-based Bennigan’s spent $8 million on advertising in 2002 but only $2 million last year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Although the move comes as Richards competes as a finalist for the $100 million Red Lobster account, a potential conflict, sources said the two situations are not directly related.