Red Lobster Shows its Human, Crab-Hunting Side

By Bob Marshall 

It’s been almost a year since Red Lobster’s AOR duties came down to Saatchi vs. Grey. As Y&R/Chiat alum Rich Siegel called it back then, whoever won the account would stick to the restaurant chain’s generic TV ad formula of close-ups on steaming food, lobster tails being cracked in slow motion and guys with khaki pants and insanely white teeth happily eating with their similarly white-toothed wives grinning back approvingly. By the time Grey won the account in August, Red Lobster was already toying with its branding a bit, attempting to position its dining experience as “…an hour you wouldn’t trade for anything.” Of course, that was before they met Jon Forsythe.

Unlike the late, great actor John Forsythe, Jon Forsythe lives hard on his boat in Alaska, catching the (strangely docile) crab that gluttonous Americans all over the nation devour after a few hours at the local mall during “Crabfest.” With the new tagline “We Sea Food Differently,” Grey is using Red Lobster employees to differentiate the chain from say, Chili’s. True, an experience at Chili’s doesn’t include selecting your favorite cow from a pen outside the dining room to be slaughtered and turned into a Big Mouth Burger a half an hour later.

Red Lobster and Grey are making a push toward quality-focused advertising, and Red Lobster’s EVP of marketing Salli Setta says in a statement, “Who better to tell this story than our own people, who bring to life the warmth, vitality and genuineness of our brand.” It’s definitely a change for the brand, but is it enough to put Red Lobster on the right track? Check out another spot starring a “Grill Master” after the jump.