Incumbents invited to pitch
The media business has been split between independent Doner, Southfield, Mich., and Havas' MPG, and both agencies are invited to participate in the pitch, confirmed an Outback spokeswoman, adding that the creative portion will remain with Publicis Groupe's Kaplan Thaler Group, New York. Outback spent $87 million in measured media in 2006, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
The move comes as parent OSI Restaurant Partners today completed its $3.5 billion acquisition by a private investor group comprising Bain Capital Partners; Catterton Management Co.; Outback founders Chris T. Sullivan, Robert D. Basham and J. Timothy Gannon; and certain OSI management. Under the agreement, Bain Capital owns a majority stake in the company, and Catterton and OSI's founders and management control minority stakes.
Other brands in the OSI portfolio are Bonefish Grill, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, Roy's, Lee Roy Selmon's, Blue Coral Seafood & Spirits and Cheeseburger in Paradise chains.
Outback in April hired Jeff Smith as president; he was formerly VP-national operations for sibling Bonefish Grill. In September, the marketer tapped Jody Bilney as chief marketing officer.