Wyman Roberts, 40, exec VP-marketing, has led the turnaround, crediting fresh thinking from new President Richard Rivera.
TV spots from new agency Euro RSCG Tatham, Chicago, are themed, "Life on land is dry." They mark a shift from a campaign-of-the-month touting bargain dinners to an emphasis on the overall enjoyment of eating seafood.
Before, ads spotlighted seafood platters and took place in Red Lobster's restaurants, with a sing-song soundtrack. Now they feature lush shots of people having fun at the seaside, and use popular music, such as LeAnn Rimes' baleful rendition of "Blue." One Wall Street analyst calls them "classy."
"It has a lot of richness to it that the marketing wasn't tapping into as much before," Mr. Roberts says.
Also, Red Lobster, a division of Darden Restaurants, last year began spending more of its $80 million media budget on radio and local promotional events, including a successful link to Ms. Rimes' summer tour.
"We are starting to connect with consumers in a different way," says Mr.