Outback Parent Eyes 3 for Media

NEW YORK The parent company of Outback Steakhouse and Carraba’s Italian restaurants has narrowed its $90 million media planning and buying review for those brands to three finalists: Aegis Group’s Carat, WPP’s MindShare and independent Horizon Media, according to sources.

Final presentations are scheduled to take place at the client’s Tampa, Fla., headquarters this month per sources.

The business is currently split between Havas’ MPG and independent agency Doner. MPG in New York, which plans and buys national media for the client, opted not to defend, as did Doner in Southfield, Mich., which handles local spot buying.

Select Resources International in Santa Monica, Calif., is overseeing the search.

SRI had previously confirmed that the client was looking to consolidate the business at one agency. Consultancy officials could not be reached for comment on the finalists late Friday, and a client rep did not return calls. The contenders either declined comment or referred calls to the client.

Creative duties, currently at Publici’ Kaplan Thaler Group in New York, are not affected by the search.

OSI Restaurant Partners spent just over $85 million advertising Outback and Carraba’s in the U.S. last year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. In addition to Outback and Carraba’s, OSI is parent to Bonefish Grill, Fleming’s, Roy’s and Cheeseburger in Paradise.