Darden Splits Olive Garden, LongHorn Media Business Between Carat and Incumbent Starcom

Olive Garden Spent $155 Million on U.S. Measured Media in 2014; Longhorn Spent $33.5 Million

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Casual dining giant Darden Restaurants has split its media agency business between incumbent Starcom and Carat and 360i following a review, the company confirmed.

Starcom will retain Olive Garden, which is the biggest spender in the portfolio, but lose its LongHorn Steakhouse business to Carat and 360i.

The Olive Garden brand spent $155 million on domestic measured media in 2014, according to Kantar Media. Longhorn spent $33.5 million.

In 2010, Starcom won a consolidation pitch that included the Orlando, Fla.-based Red Lobster, Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse brands. Starcom sibling agency Spark has worked with Red Lobster, which Darden sold last summer. Spark and Starcom are part of the Publicis Groupe-owned Starcom MediaVest Group Network.

The agencies were not immediately available to comment or referred calls to the client.

A Darden spokesman said at the beginning of the review that the company valued its relationship with Starcom and had invited the agency to participate.

Matt Park, previously CMO for Red Lobster, was named CMO for Darden Restaurants in January 2014, but he has since left the company. Jose Duenas is exec VP of marketing for Olive Garden, and John Fadool is the exec VP of marketing for LongHorn.

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