Bloomin’ Brands, the restaurant chain behind most recognizably Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill and Bonefish Grill, has selected Mediahub as its U.S. agency of record following a review launched in July, sources told Adweek.
Mediahub—Adweek’s 2017 U.S. Media Agency of the Year and the media arm of IPG-owned MullenLowe—deferred comment to Bloomin’ Brands.
Update: A Bloomin’ Brands spokeswoman confirmed the win to Adweek, adding that “we are looking forward to working” with Mediahub.
The Tampa, Fla.-based company’s incumbent lead media agency, Publicis Media’s Spark Foundry, opted not to participate in the recent review, according to the sources. Spark Foundry declined to comment.
The review came down to finalists Mediahub and Dentsu Aegis Network’s Vizeum, according to sources, who told Adweek Havas was also involved at one point.
Dentsu and Havas did not immediately return separate requests for comment.
One person close to the business said all of the company’s agencies have been placed under review following the January departure of Bloomin’ Brands chief brand officer Chris Brandt, who was since named CMO of Chipotle. The status of Bloomin’ Brands’ other agency relationships are unclear at this time.
Bloomin’ Brands spent around $97 million on measured media in the U.S. last year and $43.6 million during the first half of 2018, according to Kantar Media.
Amid sluggish sales in an increasingly competitive category, Bloomin’ Brands is up against activist investor Barington Capital, which called on the company in February to spin off its smaller restaurant brands and focus solely on Outback Steakhouse. The company operates nearly 1,500 eateries in 48 U.S. states, Puerto Rico, Guam and 19 other countries.