Red Lobster has tapped Grey, New York as its new creative AOR, besting IPG’s DraftFCB, WPP’s Ogilvy and Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi, New York in the final review round. The WPP Group-owned shop succeeds Richards Group, Dallas, which was invited but did not defend per an agency rule to not participate in pitches where it is vying to keep the business, reported AdAge.
Final pitches took place earlier this month in Orlando and in the final stretch it was a two-way race between Grey and Saatchi, said AdAge. The challenge the seafood chain gave was about creating ads and communications that are less focused on the food — flying shrimp, crab legs being cracked open and juicy lemons — and more focused on the idea of Red Lobster being a place where people come together.
“Grey demonstrated superb creativity, strategic thinking, integrated capabilities and a deep understanding of the casual-dining marketplace,” said Salli Setta, exec VP-marketing at Red Lobster. “We look forward to working with this great team to leverage the growth and success of Red Lobster in the years ahead.”
Red Lobster parent Darden Restaurants, spent $119 million on marketing Red Lobster last year, and between January and May of 2010, it has spent $57 million.
Grey has long had a relationship with the client; it’s currently agency of record for both Olive Garden and Longhorn, and in the past has worked on the Red Lobster business. The return of the account means Grey is lead creative shop for all of Darden’s major restaurant brands.