Updated: 4 Pursue Outback Creative

NEW YORK Four agencies remain in contention for creative duties on Outback Steakhouse, which last year spent nearly $90 million in major measured media, sources said. Sources identified the contenders as independent McKinney in Durham, N.C., WPP’s Young & Rubicam in Chicago, IPG’s Lowe in New York and the incumbent, Publicis’ The Kaplan Thaler Group in New York.

WPP’s Ogilvy & Mather in Chicago also advanced to the found round but withdrew.

Client executives have briefed the agencies and final presentations are slated for next week, said sources. Select Resources International in Santa Monica, Calif., is managing the process.

SRI did not return calls and the Tampa, Fla.-based client, a division of OSI Restaurant Partners, could not immediately be reached.

Kaplan Thaler has handled the business since 2005. Past TV spots have mixed animation with images of food. The tagline was, “Go Outback.”

Other OSI brands include Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Roy’s, Bonefish Grill, Fleming’s and Cheeseburger in Paradise. Outback Steakhouse is one of several reviews that SRI has managed for OSI in the past year.

Last fall, OSI consolidated media duties on Outback and Carrabba’s at Aegis Group’s Carat here after an SRI-led review. The other finalists were the New York offices of WPP’s Mindshare and independent Horizon Media.

SRI also is conducting parallel creative reviews for Carrabba’s and Roy’s.

In the first seven months of 2008, major media spending on Outback totaled $55 million, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. That figure does not include online spending.

This story updates an earlier item with news of Ogilvy’s departure.