Rapp Collins to Build Brinker Brands Sans TV

DALLAS Omnicom Group’s Rapp Collins Worldwide has won the $20 million advertising account for Brinker International’s restaurant chains that include Romano’s Grill, On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina and Maggiano’s Little Italy, the agency said.

Under its new advertising approach, the Brinker restaurants are dropping TV commercials in favor of direct marketing and targeted brand building, the client said.

Five shops were originally selected to compete for the account. But Kirshenbaum Bond in San Francisco and Downtown Partners in Chicago withdrew when the TV component of the account was eliminated, leaving Euro RSCG of Dallas and Chicago’s Draft facing Rapp Collins.

Becky Johnson, Brinker senior vice president of marketing and brand development, led the agency search that began in August.

“We are confident that we can significantly stretch our marketing budget and take our marketing program to a more customized, personalized level that will enhance customer relationships by shifting focus to direct marketing with Rapp Collins,” said Johnson.

Ad duties were previously handled by Omnicom’s GSD&M in Austin, Texas. GSD&M will continue to advertise Brinker’s Chili’s restaurants.

Cindy Davis, managing director at Rapp Collins in Dallas, will lead the account team.

Campaigns will roll out early next year, the agency said. Budgets were not disclosed.

“Chemistry played a major part in the agency selection process,” said Davis. “During the search we came to have a very easy, respectful relationship with the Brinker management teams, which is so critical to building relationships in our businesses.”