Red Lobster to Enlist Richards

NEW YORK Red Lobster is poised to hire independent The Richards Group for its $100 million ad account following a review, according to sources.

In addition to Dallas-based Richards, Red Lobster, a unit of Orlando Darden Restaurants, met with Havas’ Euro RSCG Tatham Partners in Chicago, which has held the business for five years, and Grey Global Group’s Grey in New York, the client had previously confirmed.

A representative for Red Lobster declined to confirm that a decision has been made, but said an announcement is set for next week.

The agencies either could not be reached or declined comment.

Tatham’s most recent campaign, tagged “Share the love,” launched last July but was subsequently panned by client executives including Dick Rivera, who exited as president and chief operating officer in early January. The tagline has been dropped, and Tatham has been working on new executions, with meetings scheduled into next month, sources said.

Tatham late last month laid off 10-15 percent of its staff, and shortly afterwards chief creative officer Jim Schmidt left the agency. In November, the group account director for Red Lobster, Tim Mauery, left the agency.

Red Lobster sales have been slipping. The company reported same-store sales fell 12-13 percent in December, continuing a pattern that began last spring following two years of same-store sales gains.