Radio-Happy Bonefish Grill Taps Digital Shop as Lead Agency

Blast Radius picks up first restaurant account

Bonefish Grill has named Blast Radius its lead agency after a review involving three other unnamed candidates. The WPP shop takes over an account that sister agency Young & Rubicam, Chicago had handled since 2009

The win gives Blast Radius its first restaurant account and is yet another example of a purely digital shop assuming a lead creative role. Bonefish Grill doesn't order TV advertising, so the trend makes more sense than usual in this case.

The chain—which has more than 150 U.S. locations—spent about $9 million on advertising in the first half of 2013, Kantar said, and nearly all of the budget went into radio, possibly to target drive-time listeners looking for an affordable sit-down dinner after work.

Outside of radio in 2013's first half, the chain spent $264,000 on Internet, $95,000 on newspaper and $23,000 on out-of-home signage, according to Kantar. Per the researcher's stats, Bonefish doled out some $18 million for ads during all of 2012—so its budget is on pace this year to match last year's spend. Meanwhile, Kantar said the brand ponied up roughly $14 million total in 2011.

Thirteen-year-old Bonefish Grill is based in St. Petersburg, Fla., and owned by restaurants corporation Bloomin' Brands. Going forward, Blast Radius will coordinate campaigns with the brand's media buying agency Carat.

"We are doing more out-of-home and in-store material than we do in comparison to other accounts," said Darryl Braunmiller, general manager for Blast Radius New York. He added that his team will handle Bonefish's direct mail and work with the client on earned social media marketing as well.

Scott Johnson, vp of marketing for Bonefish Grill, said Blast Radius brings "industry-leading digital capabilities but can also lead the creative development and execution of the traditional media such as radio, direct and merchandising."

And given Kantar's numbers, the emphasis here should probably be on radio.